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HB 1184 Treats CAFO Sewer Pipes Like Phone and Power Lines, Boosts Mickelson’s Business

Speaker G. Mark Mickelson is mingling business with Legislature again. In his ongoing effort to turn every rural corner of South Dakota into concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), Mickelson has his caucus pushing House Bill 1184, a brief measure that would apply current statutes on placing phone and power lines along and across highways to sewer lines built to haul animal waste.

The lead sponsors on HB 1184 are Republicans Rep. Jason Kettwig and Sen. John Wiik from District 4, where there are CAFOs and cow poop aplenty. City boy Rep. Mickelson is a co-sponsor. Kettwig, Wiik, Mickelson, and the other Republicans on this bill seem to think that statute governing the transmission of electrons through a network serving nearly every member of the public is also appropriate for governing the transmission of foul, poisonous waste produced by handful of private parties.

Dakota Rural Action explains the absurdity of this statutory ploy:

Proponents claim that these force main manure disposal pipes are a “public utility” and should be allowed to use the public right-of-way (the road in front of your house, your ditches) to lay their above-ground manure pipes without notice or permission of affected landowners. But CAFOs are private businesses and corporations, their pipes lie above the ground, and they are a safety and environmental hazard. Proponents also say the pipes are safer and do less road damage than trucks, but there’s no leak detection mechanism other than a big plume of manure in the ditch (and waterways), in your yard, or on the road. Road damage needs to be compensated for in the permitting process–and not used as an excuse to take private property rights! [Rebecca Terk, “CAFO Proponents Want Manure Disposal Pipes Treated (But Not Regulated) Like Public Utilities,” Dakota Rural Action, 2018.02.08]

Livestock sewer lines are not power or phone lines. They are not public utilities, and they pose far greater risk to landowners forced to live with it. Break a cable, and a couple guys with a truck come and repair it while you read by candlelight. Break a livestock sewer line, and you get an environmental crew and 10,000 gallons of cow poop flooding your driveway and flower bed.

Paul Kostboth and Rep. G. Mark Mickelson, panel discussion, screen cap from Contours Episode 1: "Livestock Development Part 1", SDSU Extension, posted 2015.11.09.
—You smell anything, Paul? —Heck no, Mark!

A friend who knows more about utilities than I do says that the utility companies prefer to deal with private landowners and obtain private easements outside of the right-of-way so they don’t have to deal with the state or county and move their lines whenever the roads get moved or expanded. They have the right-of-way option those occasions when a landowner just says no. CAFO owners probably encounter far more resistance from private landowners to having a dangerous, leak-prone poop pipe run across their land. Mickelson probably figures that he and his business partner Paul Kostboth could probably save their CAFO-developing clients a heck of a lot of time and money (and maybe boost their own consulting fees) if they could get legislative authority to skip dealing with finicky landowners and lay their leaky livestock sewers in the ditch.

Once again, Speaker Mickelson is using his Legislative authority to push his personal profit-making agenda. HB 1184 squeaked out of committee 7–6 on Tuesday; it is among dozens of items on Monday’s House calendar.


  1. Jenny 2018-02-10

    Why does Mickelson hate South Dakotans, err knotheads, so much?
    Did his dad run state govt like this?

    South Dakotans have to.take the Mickelson out of Mark and realize that he’s just another worthless politician that’s out for his own interests.

  2. Rorschach 2018-02-10

    This is one of the craziest things I’ve ever heard, and a lot of crazy stuff goes on in Pierre. A car crashes in the ditch, and you’ve got a gusher. Some pheasant hunter misses and you’ve got a gusher. What in the hell are they thinking?!!

  3. Nick Nemec 2018-02-11

    When a real public utility asks for a right of way I have always signed without requesting compensation since my neighbors and I will actually gain a benefit from the electricity, telephone service or safe potable water delivered by that public right of way. If manure pipelines are needed let them pay landowners compensation for the right to run the pipelines across my land.

  4. mike from iowa 2018-02-11

    Stray gunfire! ? More like vandalism, Check the road signs and tell me it is not problem. Don’t bother, Grudz.

  5. Shawn DeVries 2018-07-28

    Feel free to contact me. I live in NW IA where the Number of existing hog confinements and the resulting manure, coupled with apparently no limits on building new ones, has made life here nearly unbearable.

    My only refuge has been weekend trips to Lincoln County and Sioux Falls. But I am seeing an ever increasing number of them there as well. Has South Dakota relaxed it’s regulations on hog confinements?

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