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Lana Greenfield Seeks Political Cover from Deep Borehole Blowback, Slags Governor and Mines President Wilson

A candidate for South Dakota Legislature stood up to make a political campaign speech at the Deep Borehole Field Test informational meeting in Redfield last night. Capitalizing on the fear of nuclear waste and deep mistrust of the rampant corruption in South Dakota government expressed by other members of the 120-strong audience, this candidate…

  1. …plopped responsibility for this surprise project on our Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard;
  2. …said legislators knew nothing about the Borehole project;
  3. …and suggested that the Borehole project is part of a long plot through which former Battelle consultant, former Republican New Mexico Congresswoman, and now president of the School of Mines Heather Wilson has “feathered her nest.”

That candidate was not me. It was one of Redfield’s Republican legislators, Rep. Lana Greenfield (R-2/Doland). Here’s her statement:

We knew nothing about this. I went on my computer today and I e-mailed Prairie City, Kyle, Rapid City, Canton, Big Stone, Sioux Falls, all of my fellow legislators. Have they heard of this? Because obviously this started in the year 2012. Nope, nope, nope—nobody had heard of this. This is the Governor’s thing. This isn’t our thing.

He started out I believe the statement was the year 2012, and he expressed an interest in New Mexico for getting this technology, and voilà, and in the year 2013 they hire the former legislator from New Mexico Mrs. Heather Wilson, who is now president of the School of Mines. That is where she comes from. She was a former Representative, a former Congressperson in the United States from the Congressional district of New Mexico, and she was on the Department of Energy Commission. She was also a member of—well, you’re going to dispute this—she was tied in with Battelle and every other energy organization, and she feathered her nest.

Now, I’m just setting these guys [DBFT reps from Battelle and U.S. Department of Energy] aside. Maybe they don’t know this information, but I’m also telling you right now that our Legislature is not aware of this, either. So when it comes down to not reading the fine print or not knowing what’s going on, we’re not a part of this. This is the Governor’s deal, obviously

I don’t work for the Governor. I work for year, and I always will. I’m never going to be one of his cronies. I’m never going to be his subservient.

I just wanted you all to be aware of the fact that if something’s going forward and it says that we do not—we cannot put any kind of nuclear waste in South Dakota unless approved by the Governor OR the Legislature, well that tells me with the stroke of the pen perhaps the Governor could do that without our approval. So just know that I’m putting a disclaimer on this that the Legislature is not aware of this [Rep. Lana Greenfield, Deep Borehole Field Test informational meeting, Redfield, South Dakota, 2016.04.28].

On that nest-feathering, Rep. Greenfield is trying to draw lines back to instances Wilson was “deeply involved” in illegal lobbying for Sandia National Labs and did doubtful contract work for Sandia and three other major contractors managing the Department of Energy’s national laboratories. Battelle, the firm contracted by USDOE for the Borehole project, has received Wilson’s consulting services but is not among past contractors where Wilson’s work raised questions. Wilson’s School of Mines partnered with another firm, Parsons Brinckerhoff, in a bid for the Deep Borehole Field Test. The U.S. Department of Energy picked Battelle’s bid over the PB/Mines bid in January 2016, but after Battelle’s effort to site the DBFT in North Dakota fell through, Battelle picked South Dakota as its backup site and asked Mines in March 2016 to act as its local expert partner.

The thing is, I could have made that speech. Questions about the appropriateness of Heather Wilson’s appointment as Mines president were raised on this blog and elsewhere in the South Dakota Blogosphere, before Wilson’s first day on the job. I followed up with information on Wilson’s ethical challenges and her almost hilarious call for less regulation and oversight of contractors like herself in December 2014 and January 2015. Blog asset Donald Pay brought to our attention Governor Dennis Daugaard’s support for research on nuclear waste disposal in South Dakota shale back in 2013. Donald Pay broke open the Borehole story in August 2015 and helped me document and explain it for the first time in the South Dakota press in October 2015.

The best Rep. Greenfield can do now in the face of her nervous neighbors is claim she knew nothing about it when she could have known about all of the main points she made last night if she had just read the blogs. Better yet, she could have had all that knowledge ready when Session began this year and spent her time in Pierre asking the Governor and the School of Mines and anyone else she could nab some hard questions about the Borehole project and Wilson’s shady operations. She could have sounded the alarms to protect her constituents from this project (if they need protecting…and there’s a case to be made that that they only thing the Deep Borehole Field Test would bring to Spink County is eggheads and money) and real corruption in South Dakota. But she was too busy fighting teacher pay on false pretenses and smiting imaginary fears in the culture war.

That’s why we need legislators who will get their noses out of the right-wing playbook, study complicated issues like the Deep Borehole Field Test, and consistently challenge the powers that be on corruption, not just raise a stink when they need political cover.

p.s.: Early in the Redfield meeting, an audience member asked why Governor Daugaard himself hadn’t come to the meeting to talk about the Deep Borehole Field Test. Rep. Greenfield stood and told the audience she suspected Governor Daugaard wouldn’t want to attend a public meeting where he would have to answer “controversial” questions. Battelle spokesman T.R. Massey says Battelle invited Governor Daugaard to participate in the Borehole meeting, but the Governor had prior commitments in Rapid City. Massey says Nathan Sanderson, the Governor’s director of policy and operations, sent him the statement from the Governor that Battelle manager Rod Osborne read at the beginning of Thursday’s Redfield meeting.


  1. mike from iowa 2016-04-29 13:37

    Massey went from editing golf magazines to media relations at Battelle sounds kinda like Heckuva Job Brownie went from Arabian Horses to emergency disaster management. Okay.

  2. Donald Pay 2016-04-29 13:58

    Well, I think it is pretty telling that the Governor played this so close to the vest, if that is really what he did, that he left his party to hang out to dry. Hopefully, Republicans will do the same to Daugaard on this issue. Since this is a federal issue as well, can we assume that Daugaard didn’t communicate any of this to Thune or Rounds? Highly doubtful.

    Yeah, the lack of curiosity about this issue seemed strange to me. It was almost like politicians who were in on it carved out a plan for plausible deniability. It’s almost like legislators said, “If I don’t ask, they won’t tell.”

    I mean the trail of this thing stretches back to 2013, and it was pretty obvious to me that SD was being groomed for a nuclear waste project by Daugaard, Heather Wilson, etc. And it was covered well by Madville Times and Dakota Free Press. I’m sure your blog is read by the powers in Pierre. So, really, there is no excuse for not knowing.

    Still, I would welcome anyone’s support, no matter how late to the game they are. Conservatives were leaders and keys to victory in just about every fight on nuclear waste and similar issues. I think it’s great that a conservative has stepped up against the project. Let’s hope more follow.

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-04-29 14:30

    I feel another tightrope coming, Donald. If we want to make darn sure that nuclear waste doesn’t come to South Dakota, I will be happy to work with Rep. Greenfield, her District 2 colleagues, and any other legislator of any political stripe who wants to restore the 1984 initiative that automatically subjected any nuclear waste proposal to a statewide referendum (that’s how it worked, right, Donald? and that’s the measure the 1987 Republican Legislature annulled, right?). On that issue, we have common ground.

    But Republicans like Greenfield should not expect to turn popular fear and mistrust of Pierre into a campaign talking point for themselves. Flying the anti-corruption, “don’t trust Daugaard” flag is all fine and dandy during the campaign, but Republicans need to be held accountable for not taking that position seriously when it counts, in their votes and diligence in Pierre during Session.

  4. Troy Jones 2016-04-29 15:31

    “If we want to make darn sure that nuclear waste doesn’t come to South Dakota”

    CH: Your statement above sounds a lot like NIMBY. The waste has to go someplace and the this is a test of whether the concept is feasible and then safer than the current means of disposal. It seems rather narrow-minded to oppose a test of the concept.

    Also, it seems like the anti-fossil fuel crowd would be all over this. If this works, it will lessen the need for fossil fuels.

  5. Donald Pay 2016-04-29 16:02

    Troy climbs out of the borehole!!!!

    Troy: “…the waste has to go someplace….” Yes, it does. Bend over, Troy. Seriously, let’s don’t try the guilt-trip route to siting this project. Troy, did you know about this project prior to it being announced just last week?

  6. Troy Jones 2016-04-29 16:09


    I didn’t even know about the concept until I read it here and then looked up what it is about.

  7. Francis Schaffer 2016-04-29 16:20

    Nice to meet you in person Cory. $10 million to the state of South Dakota curious who is lined up to skim that money?

  8. Donald Pay 2016-04-29 16:25

    Yes, Cory. The automatic referral was problematic when we wrote it, and that part didn’t survive the SD Supreme Court. So, there would need to be a few adjustments similar to what we did in the solid waste issue: require Legislative approval in (non-emergency clause) bill form (thus providing a legislative route to turn down or approve a disposal site). That then provides the Governor a formal way to approve or reject (by veto) a waste site. After that the public can petition for a referral to a vote of the people.

    There would have to be a decision made about what stage in the process this mechanism kicks in. In the solid waste case, it was after a decision of the Board of Minerals and Environment. In the nuclear waste initiative, it required a vote prior to a decision “to site,” if I remember correctly. It may need to be moved up, so that the feds aren’t sinking a lot of money into a project that is not going to get consent. How that would all dovetail with the federal process that exists now, or may exist if Congress ever gets around to passing the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission is difficult to know. But all you can do is set out ideas and let folks discuss them.

  9. Adam 2016-04-29 16:36

    A very real question is how much money would the state of South Dakota get from taking on such a huge environmental liability. If we tax payers will get a $trillion/year from this, maybe it’s not so bad. However, if we’re only going to get $5/year added to the state budget from a Hazardous Waste Deep Disposal Well, we’d be flat out stupid to put it in our back yard.

    Implement cost/benefit calculations, or one should resign their opinion as unworthy of another’s eyes and ears. We’d better be compensated hugely if we allow our state to become a toxic waste dump for industries in other states.

  10. Robert McTaggart 2016-04-29 16:37

    I don’t mind having a mechanism for a public vote somewhere in the process, or more than one vote if the political topology calls for it.

    But if you are into public consent, you cannot truly assume the outcome either way. Sorry, but “making darn sure” something doesn’t happen is incongruous with facilitating public input.

  11. Roger Elgersma 2016-04-29 16:44

    If you are term limited you can make the best of the little you have left.

  12. Donald Pay 2016-04-29 16:45

    Is this issue that Seward had in mind when he talked about the “End Times?” I’m beginning to believe in Matthew 24, and in Seward’s prophetic abilities.

    Yeah,Cory, I wouldn’t be so tough on Rep. Greenfield, especially if she’s a thorn in Daugaard’s side. So, she didn’t vote right on some issues you liked. I’m out of the loop on the current legislative scene, which is more like middle school than some folks care to admit. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, as I learned in middle school, and since you’ll soon be in Legislative Middle School, you gotta learn the ropes. Give Rep. Greenfield a big hug for me when you next see her.

  13. grudznick 2016-04-29 16:54

    It seems to me there are at least several groups of people against boreholes. There are those who are against science or scared of what we might find like microbes. There are those who see this as part of a big conspiracy for some devious hidden agenda. There are those who fear we might damage the earth’s mantle and cause it to collapse or shift. And there are those who simply want to use the boreholes for their own political agenda.

    I believe young Ms. Greenfield is in the latter of those groups. She and her husband who is also in the legislatures are trying to further their political standing by being anti-establishment and anti-science.

  14. Robert McTaggart 2016-04-29 17:09

    Often science and engineering take a while to arrive at a solution, particularly if one does not know the answer ahead of time. Asking questions and finding weak points in a hypothesis is simply part of the process of building a better hypothesis or finding a better solution.

    The anti-science community has all the answers for you right now….no waiting is necessary.

  15. mike from iowa 2016-04-29 17:29

    A very real question is how much money would the state of South Dakota get from taking on such a huge environmental liability.

    How’s all that money from Trans Canada and their environmental disaster in the making doing for South Dakota?

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-04-29 17:32

    Francis, does any of that money go directly to the state? If we’re digging a hole, doesn’t the money go toward equipment (lots of drill bits!), fuel, site structures, and wages for workers?

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-04-29 17:34

    Troy, I said “if”, and I said I’d seek restoration of the automatic statewide vote. I didn’t say I was seeking an outright ban by striking the “unless” clause from SDCL 34-21-1.1. What do I have to do to catch a break here? :-)

  18. Darin Larson 2016-04-29 17:35

    Mike, Trans Canada just came down here and rented a bunch of equipment and they and their people rented rooms and spent and continue to spend money here while they deal with the spill. We have potential economic development going on all along the pipeline every time it leaks! :)

  19. mike from iowa 2016-04-29 17:37

    It seems rather narrow-minded to oppose a test of the concept.

    Might be just me,but “Mission Accomplished” pops into my mind- you remember the vote to allow dumbass dubya wide latitude in protecting America from attack led to a pre-determined, illegal war against a nation that hadn’t attacked us.

  20. MOSES 2016-04-29 18:01

    Wheres Pat Powers on this subject ,do we have a Gov whose afraid to answer questions?

  21. grudznick 2016-04-29 18:06

    Mr. Moses, does Mr. PP’s opinion on this weigh heavily into how you will feel on good science and expanding the bounds of human knowledge about this rock upon which we all live? I would bet that Mr. PP is a fan of science.

  22. Francis Schaffer 2016-04-29 19:48

    Cory, the information was the county would get $1 million and the state $10 million. Grudz, the Greenfield are mother and son. I don’t know where you live but here in SD we do have a marriage law that prohibits them from marrying.

  23. bret clanton 2016-04-29 21:07

    Grudzz or whatever you are, PP is a fan of science only if it has a republican slant…

  24. grudznick 2016-04-29 21:15

    Thank you, Mr. Schaffer. I hope you can understand my mistake given how young and petite Ms. Greenfield appears compared to Mr. Greenfield. There are indeed a lot of parental relationships in our legislature, are there not?

  25. Steve Hickey 2016-04-30 03:02

    Never heard a thing about this topic and I was in the legislature during this period of time.

  26. jerry 2016-04-30 07:14

    That does not surprise me Mr. Hickey, you were probably too busy keeping Medicaid from the working poor to multitask.

  27. Bob Newland 2016-05-02 12:16

    Lana and Brock; speaking of deep boring holes.

  28. Madman 2016-05-02 12:34

    Maybe if the Greenfields would be more concerned about whats going into the ground then who is going into the bathroom, they could have done some investigating about other things happening in the state.

  29. Craig 2016-05-02 12:48

    I’m all for scientific discovery and testing. If the location is suitable for testing but not suitable for actual waste disposal then it would appear people are worried about nothing. Surely we can have contracts and agreements drafted that explicitly preclude any actual waste from being disposed of… and all of this concern can be saved for another day.

    That said, I really don’t have a problem with nuclear waste disposal aside from the fact that I feel it should be disposed on closer to the actual nuclear reactors. I’m all for nuclear power however – so if they want to build a reactor or two in our borders then I’m on board as long as they promise to shut down the coal burners.

  30. leslie 2016-05-02 14:03

    “anti-science community” (C) Robert McTaggart, 2016

    like climate deniers? like Garland advise and consent hearing deniers?

    anti-science deniers along 150-200 miles of Whitewood Creek, Cheyenne River, and Oahe reservoir? or a 50-60mile strip of open pits, acid lakes and tailings dams across the northern hills from sturgis to sun dance, roughly? science deniers around the old western unreclaimed SD uranium mines regulated by SDDENR? Science deniers around every SD farm and ranch and wetland accumulating phosphates ect. from chem and other run off? Science deniers concerning CAFOs? Science deniers concerning EAFB soil and water contamination, and lets not forget missiles and bombing ranges and new uranium mines, and dilbit pipeline high tech science!!

    man, I think the good doctor just equated all us environmental activists with GOP climate deniers. I don’t think so. :)

  31. Robert McTaggart 2016-05-02 21:39

    Leslie, science justifies the critical need to address climate change. Science can also be used to build a better and safer nuclear waste facility, but that seems to be discounted on this blog.

    With regard to environmentalism, I believe that nuclear energy in general can help produce the carbon-free energy we will need, but I am neither anti-solar nor anti-wind. I am against trying to do everything with solar and wind: Without energy storage we will simply burn more natural gas to make up the difference. Today I would prefer to focus solar and wind on applications that do not mind their intermittent nature. I am also against ignoring the environmental impacts of all energy sources, including solar and wind.

    I’m all for environmental monitoring in all of those areas that you bring up. A consistent program will tell you when something needs to be corrected. Operating in a mode of “if you do not want to know, don’t ask” will lead to problems eventually. Particularly if you are trying to support consent-based processes.

  32. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-05-02 22:21

    Bob, I’ve been waiting for someone to play on those words. Thank you. :-)

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