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Would Term Limits Bring More Studious Legislators?

Maybe term-limited legislators would read more books... Scyller Borglum at Dinky Town bookstore, tweeted 2017.09.24.
Maybe term-limited legislators would read more books…. Scyller Borglum at Dinky Town bookstore, tweeted 2017.09.24.

Oh yeah, term limits….

Rookie Representative Scyller Borglum’s solo summer study of rural education got me thinking about term limits.

I generally oppose term limits. I oppose arbitrarily limiting voters’ choices. If people want to reëlect a person who’s already been a Representative or Governor or President for eight years, if voters really believe that incumbent can do the job better than anyone else applying for the job, I’m inclined to let voters have their way. Why boot talent and experience? We don’t arbitrarily require that Reed Kessler step down from his position at Kessler’s Grocery in Aberdeen because all the power he’s accumulated working there since 2008 might corrupt him or hurt the local body politic. If Reed’s doing good work, we’ll keep buying his groceries. If legislators are doing good work, we’ll keep voting for them.

But rookie Representative Borglum got me thinking there could be a justification for kicking legislators out more regularly. Consider that Representative Borglum is showing unusual initiative in declaring and launching her own individual project to study rural education. In the current South Dakota Legislature, freshperson legislators are strongly encouraged to keep quiet, pay their dues, and take their cues from club (er, Legislative) leaders. Representative Borglum isn’t waiting for caucus leaders to declare rural education a priority. As I noted Wednesday, she isn’t waiting for the Executive Board to approve an official summer study. And she certainly isn’t waiting for her second or third term to rise to some leadership position and thus have some intra-club claim to directing her party’s agenda. Borglum is piping up and seeking publicity for herself and her own brainchild.

Perhaps other legislators are deterred from showing Borglum’s kind of initiative by the lack of term limits. Longtime leaders look down at rookies and say, “We worked our way to our leadership positions over several years. We’re entitled to dictate the agenda. You newbs need to wait your turn.” Maybe legislators who know they can get several swings at the seat allow themselves to take it easy the first term and unnecessarily extend their learning curves.

While institutional knowledge is valuable, maybe the assumption of institutional knowledge dampens the drive for real learning and achievement. Perhaps if everyone in Pierre were a rookie, everyone would feel the same obligation to hit the books and the crackerbarrels and the dusty roads, figure out what’s going on and what needs fixing, and right quick come up with serious policies to do that fixing.

Maybe Representative Borglum has already set herself a term limit: one term, maybe two in the Legislature, and then she’s primarying Kristi Noem or running for Thune’s seat if he decides not to tempt the three-term Senate curse. Maybe she’s decided, “I won’t be in this seat long, so I have to make the most of it now.”

I still oppose term limits on principle, but maybe term limits would drive more legislators to make the most of it. Imagine if all 105 legislators were out there right now conducting their own listening tours to gather information on 105 serious policy issues. Instead of a 2020 Session cluttered with recycled goofball ideas from fringe-right Breitbartia, we might get some real policy generated from real legislators focused on solving real problems.


  1. TAG 2019-04-05 08:41

    Rather than comment on your point, I’ll insolently offer another solution to legislative laziness: Proportional Representation.

    In the current winner-take-all system, representatives from districts that are “comfortably” Republican or Democrat are more worried they will be unseated in a primary than the general election. That means that there is little incentive to appeal to voters in the minority (party, race, or in any other sense).

    It also means that any minority group essentially has no voice (in that district), and there are many “wasted” votes. If we use a proportional representation system (there are many approaches), minority groups that are large enough will also have representation. This keeps representatives more “on their toes” and less comfortable in their majority districts, and majority-dominated legislature. Plus the minority get a more proportional voice.

    There are several strategies for “Proportional Representation” but my preference is “Single Transferable Vote” (STV). It basically functions like Ranked-Choice Voting, but with multi-member districts (like we have here in SD). Here’s an entertaining video that explains it:

  2. TAG 2019-04-05 08:46

    In the video above:
    Kingdom = SD
    Monkeys = Republicans

    I’ll let you decide who the “super-cool white tiger” is….

  3. TAG 2019-04-05 08:54

    Typically, Multi-Member Districts (MMDs) [yes, I like acronyms] function best with 3 to 5 elected representatives. This balances fairness of proportions with the desire for local representation. Even if we didn’t redraw any lines in SD and stayed with 2-member districts it would have positive effects, though.

    Consider the many districts in SD that are around 55% Republican, that reliably send two republicans to the legislature year after year. That would change with a more proportional voting system. OTOH, a district that is 60% to 70% Republican rightly should have two Red Reps, and would under any system.

  4. Donald Pay 2019-04-05 08:55

    The idea behind term limits was to have a regular churning of talent and ideas. I think Rep. Borglum was what Rep. John Timmer had in mind as he was pushing this idea forward in South Dakota.

    Timmer was in the Legislature and experienced the ossified, brain dead sessions of a one-party state with half-demented committee chairs taking orders from the Governor. It was a way, in a one-party state, to get the dipsy doodles out of the way. I mean, really, just think if Haugaard had a lifetime do wield his corrupt power. There is a a better way, of course: vote out one-party hegemony, but term limits are still good for clearing out the dead wood and dipsy doodles from the strong Republican Party districts.

    Term limits are also a way to disrupt the lobbyist-legislature system of wink-wink-nod-nod corruption. That does work, as freshmen legislators tend to be far less corrupt and more constituent oriented. Over a few terms that changes.

  5. Loren 2019-04-05 09:01

    I don’t know that term limits would help if the only qualification in SD is to have a “R” by your name. I keep hearing that the, “American voters are actually smarter than you think.” I’m not so sure, anymore.

  6. TAG 2019-04-05 09:15

    Now I am confused. I thought we DID already have term limits for our Senate, House, and Governor of 8 years? Cory, your title, and some comments make it seem like we are postulating on what WOULD happen rather than what IS happening with term limits.

    Another thing to consider, IMO is the population of South Dakota, and the availability of qualified candidates. We already have some uncontested seats in every election. Maybe the limits should be 10 or 12 years rather than 8? Or the size of the legislature could be made less bigly?

  7. Donald Pay 2019-04-05 10:03

    TAG has hit on something I’ve stated from time to time: Legislatures have too many members. South Dakota’s Legislature could shrink by half and that would improve it by 2X. Same with Wisconsin’s Legislature.

    There’s a number of street projects going on in my neighborhood right now. I’ve notice that if there are two or three people out there, they are digging, putting in pipe, etc. If there are 8 to 10 workers, two or three are working and the rest are watching and talking.

  8. James 2019-04-05 10:05

    She’s running for a higher office in 2020. She’s doing this because she likes people talking about her and loves the limelight. Don’t be fooled by her lack of absence from the main stage, now that session is over she can get it all.

  9. bearcreekbat 2019-04-05 11:47

    A fundamental question on term limits seems to be: is the bad so pervasive and likely to keep returning that it is worth throwing out the good with the bad – or the figurative baby with the the bathwater – or the talented caring public servants with the “dead wood and dipsy doodles?”

    Selective pruning by the voters seems a more reasonable solution than thoughtless expulsion of all. And if a majority of voters are too stupid or lazy to use their votes to prune “dead wood and dipsy doodles” then why aren’t such representatives exactly what those voters deserve?

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-04-05 12:24

    TAG, I consider the current Legislative term limits toothless. Having to switch chambers every eight years creates a little inside-baseball excitement but doesn’t do much to guarantee removing the dead wood and dipsy doodles.

    I remain closer to Bear’s point, that the voters get what they ask for. Given the strong R-ness that Loren notes in our electorate, it would seem that term limits could only mean faster churn of ignorami like Kaleb Weis into the ranks to waste our time with his Breitbart karaoke.

    But Borglum somehow emerged from that system, and rather than spending her off-Session time forwarding links from Sean Hannity, she’s out working on a genuinely South Dakota issue.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-04-05 12:25

    James, what higher office is she running for? Unless Mike Rounds is planning to retire, there’s no higher office on the ballot not already held by a Republican for her to seek. What’s her plan?

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-04-05 12:27

    Donald, if we shrink the Legislature, will we have enough people to serve on committees and give bills proper review? I’m still very fond of the bicameral system, offering in an honest system lots of chances to put lots of eyes on bills, and two chances for the public to come to the mic and advocate for good stuff and fight bad stuff.

  13. Chris S. 2019-04-05 12:27

    Term limits don’t reduce the influence of lobbyists. From what I’ve seen, they increase it. If a big chunk of the legislature doesn’t know how the process of governing works, someone is going to step in and educate them, and that is often going to be lobbyists. Just think of this past session where one committee chair had to have someone whispering in his ear how to conduct a basic meeting using Robert’s Rules of Order. Now imagine that dynamic occurring all session long, with lobbyists “helpfully” providing the assistance.

    I tend to agree with our esteemed host. The best term limits are elections . . . of course that’s paradoxically the problem with them too, when incumbents tend to be re-elected almost automatically.

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-04-05 12:29

    “Selective pruning,” Bear says—indeed. As in the private sector, instead of setting some arbitrary limit on how long someone can do a job, it still seems a better idea to let the market solve, let quality prove itself.

    Of course, we have yet to see if Borglum represents quality. Let’s see what comes of her summer study. If it’s just a publicity stunt like Ravnsborg’s 2014 Senate run and his subsequent tub-thumping against ISIS and ballot measures, I will raise heck.

  15. Debbo 2019-04-05 15:50

    If SD is going to keep term limits, they need to make an adjustment to a total of 8 years in the legislature per 15 year time period.

    I like TAG’s idea of proportional representation. Anything to make the voice of the people heard.

    Of course a cure for all of the problems is for the majority of citizens to become educated and critical voters. Wouldn’t that be nice?

  16. mtr 2019-04-05 19:52

    In speaking with a local legislator, it was noted that “good” legislators tend to do their research over the summer, work with LRC on drafting/creating a bill in the Fall/Winter, so that they hit the ground running come January. “A few others” were noted as generally doing little concerning actual research/drafting of legislation until the session starts.

    I’m guessing the second group are generally told what to do come Jan/Feb/March.

  17. James 2019-04-06 08:21

    There will be a runoff in a higher office. I’m not at liberty to say which one. It will be an attempt to weaken and drain a sitting republican and Billie will have another shot at losing a close race.

  18. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-04-06 09:18

    If our Legislative term limits make any sense, they should follow Deb’s lead: eight years then out, regardless of chamber. Jumping from House to Senate is not a real term limit.

    MTR, the second group includes Al Novstrup, who doesn’t even concentrate on legislating instead of his summer job during the winter Session.

    James, why aren’t you at liberty? And do you mean primary for higher office? Is Scyller part of a plan to weaken the sitting Republican, or is she just doing her own thing and that’s a side benefit for Sutton?

  19. grudznick 2019-04-06 09:31

    The sad status of the incompetence in the legislatures is mostly the Dems fault. If they were not so self-admittedly incompetent and inept at running their party and they did not embrace such fringe ideas and have out-of-state name-callers as the public perception of their party and have the most hated woman on the planet as their role model then more Libbies would get elected. With more balance in the legislatures the whackies would have fewer bills that are insaner than most. grudznick blames the Dems for the Dems failures and urges them to step up and do at least a half-assed job from here out.

  20. Donald Pay 2019-04-06 10:16

    What’s a fringe idea, Grudz? How about boreholes? That was an out-of-state effort, and you fell right in line. Not surprising. As long as there’s a little money for corruption, Republicans fall right in line with out-of-staters. If the out-of-staters have left the state because they are sick of the corruption, that’s when Grudz, G. Marky and the other corrupt Republicans holler about “out-of-staters.” When out-of-staters pay them off, well, we love ’em. I’m only an out-of-stater because Republican hate, fake religion, incompetence and corruption got so bad, I had to save my soul.

  21. Donald Pay 2019-04-06 10:28

    Chamber jumping was not contemplated as a serious issue by Timmer. Timmer assumed that it would follow the normal pattern back then: House first, then Senate, then out of the Legislature for good. That’s what he figured the public wanted: 16 years was long enough. I think he figured Legislators would have an understanding of moral norms or that public reprobation would keep people from jumping back and forth. He was wrong.

  22. happy camper 2019-04-06 11:21

    But Grutz, Cory does not assert this blog to represent the SD Democratic Party, he’s made a strong commitment to the expression of free ideas, then again if it serves as a defacto site you’re right it would alienate voters I’ll again use the example of Mike calling a fetus an unwanted parasite. What would a visitor think? Is that Cory’s problem? No, but there is a rub. Sutton would have probably been elected if it wasn’t for that last minute tape of him condoning state income tax. Dems will have to accept political realities and come up with appropriate strategies, but yes to term limits and fresh ideas. If they are too short however the bureaucracy becomes stronger than the representatives.

  23. mike from iowa 2019-04-06 11:38

    If a visitor, with an open mind, saw my fetus is parasite comment, they would likely decide to look more deeply to see why such a comment was made. A fetus is a parasite. It depends on the host (woman’s uterus) for its very existence until the moment of birth, unless medical personnel or right wing nut jobs interfere with the process.

    A visitor here would also be likely to notice you and Ryan ignoring the fact that men are equally responsible for that fetus, even though you absolve them of any responsibility for it s creation. You blame the woman for getting pregnant and not using birth control.

    This blog is where we are free to express our opinions even if they conflict with you or Ryan or any of the trolls.

  24. Robert McTaggart 2019-04-06 12:49

    Uff da.

    Recall that Gov. Daugaard supported the borehole effort as something that tied-in with state interests in underground science, and could have led to a South Dakota company being the world leader in that technology. So while you are free to oppose in-state interests from out-of-state (it is a free country after all), it is not like the in-state interests did not exist.

    Many took the leap that drilling a borehole meant the nuclear waste was on its way, instead of recognizing the need to test methods to dispose of our defense wastes safely. Once again, you may oppose or disagree with the nuclear deterrence that the United States pursued, or whether we benefited from not having a nuclear war, but you cannot wish those wastes away and should want them dealt with safely.

    It never got to the point of finding out if items sent down such a borehole were retrievable, which would have made a future withdrawal of a community’s consent to borehole waste disposal feasible. And consent was a major topic at the time. Good thing the Science Stoppers stepped in before we found that out, right guys and gals?

    Today, we face a couple of new challenges that boreholes may help us solve.

    First, we will need to isolate wastes from renewables, in particular toxic elements we want to keep away from water bodies. The elements are not radioactive, but they have the not-so-nice chemistries.

    The bulk volume from things like broken wind turbine blades are not going to be helped by boreholes…we need to find secondary uses for those (like roads and bridges).

    Second, the same drilling data from the borehole test would have helped in-state geothermal energy to make electricity. South Dakota actually has some hot spots that are better suited for geothermal development. Last I checked, geothermal energy was clean energy.

  25. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-04-06 15:06

    Moral norms, from legislators who say Kennedy Noem is the most qualified person to be the Governor’s policy advisor? HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA.

    Breathe. Breathe.


  26. Roger Cornelius 2019-04-06 16:04

    All things considered being that this is South Dakota, maybe Kennedy Noem is the “most qualified person to be the governor’s policy advisor”.

  27. mike from iowa 2019-04-06 18:06

    Doc- what if we don’t have the time to solve all renewable waste problems before fossil fuel waste problems overwhelm us?

    AS I have said before we could have and should have been working on renewables long before we did, but fossil fuel interests have their hooks deep in pol’s backsides.

  28. mike from iowa 2019-04-06 18:11

    Is Miss Borglum related to the sculptor of a certain piece of rock out yonder?

  29. Robert McTaggart 2019-04-06 18:45

    Got it Mike. If we are in a hurry, we don’t really have to be concerned with clean water….

    Now is as good a time as any to implement best practices.

  30. mike from iowa 2019-04-06 18:52

    Now is as good a time as any to implement best practices.

    You don’t have to convince me. Just stoopid wingnuts who don’t believe in climate change or pollution or environmental regs. The EPA wants more air pollution for the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s sake.

  31. Robert McTaggart 2019-04-06 19:00

    The problem always is that getting recycling or waste management together requires additional costs that nobody wants to pay. We are going to face the same thing with infrastructure in general.

    For example, there is much more discussion about getting Yucca Mountain going again as opposed to recycling, or building new reactors that consume more of the waste. That is because Yucca would be cheaper.

    And term limits won’t make legislators more studious. The only way to do that is for the more studious candidates to win more elections.

  32. Debbo 2019-04-06 20:33

    Mike, do not disparage the FSM. Therein lies perhaps the only religion that takes all comers and hates no one.

  33. leslie 2019-04-06 22:52

    Borglum, granite sculptor, boreholes under SD for nuke “defense” waste- i am confused. Alberta tar sands fields owned by Kochs should be where wasted nukes get buried. Let’s drive it up to Canada and use condemnation.

  34. Robert McTaggart 2019-04-06 23:08

    It somehow has something to do with hemp…

  35. jerry 2019-04-06 23:24

    Uf da indeed. The lies of the nuke snake oil industry and their salesmen continue to this day. The nukes have poisoned us here in South Dakota right along with the rest of the world. Wonder why there is so much cancer in South Dakota? Look no further than close to this Yucca Mountain and the bombs exploded there. Don’t think Chernoboyl had anything to do with cancer in South Dakota?, wrong.

    In 1986, the Soviet minister of hydrometeorology, Yuri Izrael, had a regrettable decision to make. It was his job to track radioactivity blowing from the smoking Chernobyl reactor in the hours after the 26 April explosion and deal with it. Forty-eight hours after the accident, an assistant handed him a roughly drawn map. On it, an arrow shot north-east from the nuclear power plant, and broadened to become a river of air 10 miles wide that was surging across Belarus toward Russia. If the slow-moving mass of radioactive clouds reached Moscow, where a spring storm front was piling up, millions could be harmed. Izrael’s decision was easy. Make it rain.

    So that day, in a Moscow airport, technicians loaded artillery shells with silver iodide. Soviet air force pilots climbed into the cockpits of TU-16 bombers and made the easy one-hour flight to Chernobyl, where the reactor burned. The pilots circled, following the weather. They flew 30, 70, 100, 200km – chasing the inky black billows of radioactive waste. When they caught up with a cloud, they shot jets of silver iodide into it to emancipate the rain.”

    Give me the wind chargers, the solar collectors and the brains to make a better world to fix the screw ups of the past. Put nukes to sleep, now and forever. Mothball the B-21 and all thermonuclear devices, think bribes as they work better than bullets.

  36. Robert McTaggart 2019-04-06 23:55

    That’s interesting, because the wildlife around Chernobyl is doing fine. In fact, they are doing much better simply because people are not around.

    The effects from both Chernobyl and Fukushima to the general public are lost within the statistical noise of everything else that impacts disease and cancer. If you were in the plant at the time of the incident that can be a different story. But we are talking about the general public outside of the plant.

    Remember, nuclear detectors are very good at detecting even small amounts of radioactivity. That is how good nuclear science actually is.

    “Relocating thousands of people has caused a wide range of health consequences including increase of disaster-related deaths, psychosocial and access to health care issues. Disrupted infrastructure, disconnection of evacuees from their municipalities, reduced number of health workers and failure of local public health and medical systems due to relocation made it more difficult to address these issues.”

    That doesn’t sound like to me that the main health care issue was radioactivity….it was human response.

  37. jerry 2019-04-07 00:13

    Animals eat the grass and other animals eat them. The meat is tainted and on it goes. Just like you and me doc, we have been subjected to the lies of the nuclear industry saying that they can detect it all. They have too, as noted in the wheat of Minnesota. Funny how those wheat products go into our cereal and flour that our children consume. You too have consumed it one way or another, just like the rest of us. Kind of gives a person a glow knowing how we got hoodwinked.

    Now we have Saudi Arabia making billion dollar deals to a completely corrupt nuclear industry and dumb people vote for trump because Mexicans and brown people don’t ya know. What could possibly go wrong with giving these murderous crooks and liars more ways to bomb our landmarks and cities as they have proven capable of doing already.

  38. mike from iowa 2019-04-07 03:09

    Debbo, I didn’t mean to disparage FSM. I got my verbiage wrong trying to say something like “for Pete’s sake”.

  39. Adam 2019-04-07 03:11

    A very wise man once said, “power which is unaffraid of ever loosing its power always becomes corrupt.” Fortunately, Democracy and rule of law allow for periodic public reassessments of elected officials – thereby holding them accountable for any poor work.

    Term limits are the assumption that, “sometimes the majority of voters can vote wrong. So, sometimes the system should take away what voters actually want.”

    It’s just like the Electoral College. “Sometimes, the loser of the popular vote should magically be transformed into the winner, because sometimes the majority of voters can vote wrong.”

    We do these things as we fall victim to the Slippery Slope Falicy. “If a guy holds the majority of public support for too long, it could be bad for everybody in the end.” They believe these things as if they forget that we live in a well-tempered, carefully constructed Democratic Republic.

  40. Adam 2019-04-07 03:16

    They also believe these things because they have no balls.

  41. Robert McTaggart 2019-04-07 12:50


    I get the feeling you don’t like Trump very much :^).

    Heavy metal chemistry does NOT attenuate over time. Wait four half-lives, radioactivity from ANY isotope is reduced by over 98%. Heavy metals exist in renewable wastes. So if you are for clean water, be for clean water.

    The use of phosphate-based fertilizers redistributes more uranium in the environment than the nuclear industry, as does fracking for natural gas and the burning of coal (which we will do more of without nuclear). The nuclear industry wants to consume uranium, not redistribute it!

    As for Saudi Arabia, they are investing their oil money into solar and nuclear. That certainly tells you something about how they see the future of energy.

    Rush Limbaugh was fond of saying that a hundred million listeners can’t be wrong. No….millions of people can be wrong, and 535 people can also be wrong too. Term limits won’t change that aspect of politics.

  42. jerry 2019-04-07 16:39

    Those things you say about the nuke’s are simply not true. There is way to much cancer our there to show where you’re incorrect.

    Regarding Saudi Arabia, 3,000 dead Americans would dispute the integrity of that s#!+ hole country. They lost whatever good will they had when they carved up that journalist in Turkey.

    Rush Limbaugh is fond of cashing his meatball checks from the hundred million empty souls that listen to his hate message. Term limits in South Dakota help, we got rid of that stank bomb Napoli.

  43. Robert McTaggart 2019-04-07 17:58

    I think we both agree that cancer is bad, but nuclear is not the scapegoat. If it were, then there would be less cancer because there are fewer nuclear plants today than there were a couple of decades ago. There are also fewer nuclear weapons today than there were in the past.

    Science can be used to make things better. That includes nuclear and it includes renewables. We should be doing both of them in the right way for our benefit. Please don’t be a Science Stopper.

  44. leslie 2019-04-07 19:40

    Doc we’ve a decade to get to 100% renewables. You wanna ask science and industry to solve that AND narrow the bottleneck too? Let’s go to the moon and make the transport reactor powered by then? Rember Republicans are all about reducing the $21T deficit/debt :) right?

  45. Debbo 2019-04-07 20:21

    On the topic of studious legislators, here’s one for them to study:

    “Studies show that the wealthiest are more likely to avoid paying taxes. The top 0.5 percent in income account for fully a fifth of all the underreported income, according to a 2010 study by the IRS’ Andrew Johns and the University of Michigan’s Joel Slemrod. Adjusted for inflation, that’s more than $50 billion each year in unpaid taxes.” ProPublica.

    The wealthy are the biggest tax cheats, not only in $ amounts, but in the number of cheaters too. So let’s have legislators study how to hold SD’s cheats accountable so they’re not cheating on various taxes.

    That recovered $ legally owed could get SD up from 4th worst infrastructure in the country. Even Mississippi has better bridges than SD! Now that’s shameful!

    What’s more if SD quit being a haven for tax evaders, there could be more fed $ to prevent the next bridge you attempt to cross from collapsing under you, or more likely, your child’s school bus.

    Hey legislators! Study this!

  46. Robert McTaggart 2019-04-07 20:50

    100% renewables while keeping our current reliability standards for energy means having a viable battery technology for all energy needs (big and small). And we need enough of the critical elements that such an approach would require…those won’t come out of thin air.

    That isn’t happening in a decade. I have doubts that environmentalists will support the level of mining that will be required, and I have yet to see support for a true waste management plan that makes things more sustainable.

    The other approach is to give up on the delivery of timely and plentiful energy. Yes, that can be 100% renewable, but it will not be reliable or provide enough energy when we want to use it. I think there will be a political backlash if that happens. That is what the current form of the green new deal has in its future if one demands 100% renewables without having the necessary tech ready.

    It appears that the Trump Administration (if you believe the current draft of its 2020 Department of Energy budget) believes more in advanced coal and carbon capture. Nuclear is being cut by 40%, and renewables and efficiency by almost 90% in their budget (which of course means little without Congressional approval). So who says nuclear and renewables have nothing in common?

    We need a moon shot for large-scale energy storage and a moon shot for carbon capture. The advanced reactors need to be protoyped, built, and tested. Nuclear really needs the moon shot for getting recycling or a permanent waste storage facility approved and built. And yes, we somehow have to get the budget deficit down too.

  47. grudznick 2019-04-07 21:07

    It seems clear and documented in the blogging world that most of the legislatures are far more studious than the out-of-state name-callers who blog here. Ms. Geelsdottir, if you could vote in the Great State of South Dakota, would you vote for Mr. Novstrup, who despite being handicapped with a neat hair cut has voted in the best interests of the majority of South Dakotans, or would you vote for Mr. H, who despite being handicapped with a neat haircut has stated he would vote against the best interests of the majority of South Dakotans if he had a vote?

  48. jerry 2019-04-08 04:15

    Nukes are the problems with cancer, without Uranium, you eliminate the cancer. Ask your neighbors, you know, the ones with thyroid cancer and other cancer related causes. Ask them about their dosages of Synthroid for their replaced thyroid or sick one.

  49. leslie 2019-04-08 11:16

    Doc your expertise in the state is fundamental. The “moonshot” is launching now so get on board because the decade cannot be wasted. Kristi needs a wise apolitical science based state energy policy.

  50. Robert McTaggart 2019-04-08 15:43

    Some stirrings of the moon shot.

    US looking into increasing the domestic lithium supply…(mining will be necessary)

    “Murkowski, the chair of the committee, plans to introduce legislation to ease the permitting process for lithium mining, further government studies of U.S. mineral supplies, and encourage mineral recycling, according to Reuters.”

    And carbon capture is receiving some bipartisan support…

    “As the U.S. develops CCUS technologies, we will benefit not only from cleaner power here at home, but from new markets for U.S. technologies abroad, including innovations towards direct air capture.”

  51. Donald Pay 2019-04-08 17:17

    Why is it that industry and Republicans always want to “ease” permitting? If you look at the history of mining in this country and elsewhere, regulations need to be considerably strengthened. There has been a lot of devastation in South America due to lithium mining.

    Just to let you know, there are no federal regulations on lithium mining on private lands, and most lithium mining in the past has been on private land. States have the major responsibility to regulate mining on non-federal land. Murkowski doesn’t mention any specifics, but if she’s talking about loosing water regulations or taking over state water rights, she’ll have a major fight.

  52. Robert McTaggart 2019-04-08 18:35

    It will be interesting to see which one wins out…a no-more-mining environmentalism, or the green new deal that wants more electric vehicles (which needs lithium).

    Perhaps instead of carbon credits subsidizing renewable energy, we should be checking the box to pay for the environmental oversight and protection necessary to have that renewable energy (if not make it sustainable).

  53. grudznick 2019-04-08 18:41

    It is almost like the anti-nuke and people resisting The Borehole are of that same group who thinks that ranchers are mean to cows and should set them all free because steaks come from the grocery store so we don’t need the ranchers.

  54. Robert McTaggart 2019-04-08 19:26

    Republicans are fine with getting off of oil from the Middle East and using domestic energy. But on average the environmental benefit seems to be the salad and not the steak. At some level things have to work better, make their daily lives better, or cost less.

    Pinching the supply of lithium when you want more electric vehicles will push the cost higher. So we will need more mining and recycling, and we might as well do it the right way.

    If you can get that done as a politician (more supply with good environmental oversight), then why should that person be term-limited if they are delivering results and the people vote them back in?

  55. Donald Pay 2019-04-08 21:43

    The point is this: if they can’t mine lithium responsibly, it ain’t worth it, and it should be resisted. I can’t understand people like Murkowski, who try to find reasons to make lithium a worse hazard than carbon. I think she is trying to halt alternative energy, rather than support it. Her stupid idea of reducing regulation is the opposite of what is needed in order to make lithium mining work.

  56. Debbo 2019-04-08 22:04

    I was just reading about battery technology and the progress being made in devising batteries that will both charge and discharge faster. One pole of the battery is made with lithium and other elements, depending on the purpose of the battery. The other is nearly always graphite. Tech science people are looking at other elements to substitute for the graphite.

    Also at other storage options. Silicone is very good, but it expands as the charge increases, so break the casing. They’re looking for ways to manage that.

    There is no expectation for a better substitute for lithium for the next 10 years or so, thus demand for the mineral will stay high. 2 different companies expect to be on the market next year with a battery that swaps out both the graphite anode and has greater storage capacity. We shall see.

  57. Robert McTaggart 2019-04-08 22:18

    I agree that lithium mining should be done responsibly. But if you want more energy storage (particularly over the next 10 years) then you will have to find a happy place regarding production and oversight. There is no lithium tree at the present time that you can pick for free.

    Graphene and other carbon-based tech are of interest because carbon is plentiful. And if you could pull it out of the air, then this would be a good direction to go in.

    I do not think there will be one super battery. There will be a plethora of battery types and energy storage for fast and slow charging/discharging, but we will still need to fill in the gaps between supply and demand. Just covering what we need for transportation will be a large hurdle, let alone commercial or home or city use.

    They say the best time to plant a tree is either today, or 20 years ago. That holds true for a lot of the things we will have to do.

  58. jerry 2019-04-09 02:37

    Politicians are not fine with “getting off” Mid East oil as that oil greases the wheels of the military industrial machine. Without brown folks to shoot at, why would there be a need for such an unregulated money hole?

    China is getting away from all of this and going with hydrogen. We already have the technological skills to build trains run with hydrogen power, what are we waiting for? Oh yeah, see above.

  59. grudznick 2019-04-09 07:47

    Lithium is used to treat the insanest among us, so we dare not stop mining it. Imagine the horrors of having Mr. Howie and young Ms. Hubbel and Ms DiSanto get even insaner.

  60. leslie 2019-04-09 10:09

    I think Will Rogers or someone quipped about deserving who we voted for but I don’t think anyone deserves EB5 and MCEC tragedies. He, like big mouth-liar limbaugh, are wrong for SD. The idea isn’t to get good at being a state politician. At least I think founders (slaver Jefferson, sculpted out of “Hin Han Kaga Paha Sapa” owl-shaped granite by the infamous [KKK] elder Borglum, MFI! [Those out-of-staters know a thing or two.]) thought so.

    Kristi and MMR are mere unscrupulous Republican cheats, just like Daugaard despite his ethical training, profiting and nepotism at the public well, and like most of the SD Republican elected officials. Term limits are necessary, stricter would be helpful. That’s why the pay used to be low, too.

    Nationally, Pelosi is outstanding, in the fight of her life at the helm. Thune otoh has become mini-mcconnell. Worthless for non-billionaires. What will Dusty do? Become Another Susan Collins? Jeff Flake perhaps. Grdz or our native son/silver spooned lobbyist under the pendulous apatosaurus, or for that matter swingin’ Fred Flintstone, might know.

  61. leslie 2019-04-09 10:11

    Short cuts, eh Doc? That’s your reasoned “balanced” conclusion. Mengele would agree, anyway. Together with deniers McConnell and Trump. Extreme you say?

    Btw Bipolar disorder is an illness, like addiction

  62. Robert McTaggart 2019-04-09 11:12


    Besides mining the rare earth elements and other critical elements that we enjoy for our solar and wind power, China is also building more nuclear power plants too.

    Leslie…if the mining never gets approved, you never get the lithium you say you want. That is the dilemma. The solution should be to pay for the costs of extraction, remediation, recycling, and waste management. It is more expensive to do things the right way in the short term….but not the long term.

    And unfortunately, it is the upfront cost that consumers often pay attention to. Nuclear faces that too.

  63. leslie 2019-04-09 15:21

    Bloomberg 4.18.19, b. Parkin, “Renewables save $10 T” in climate mitigation.

  64. Robert McTaggart 2019-04-09 16:16

    That likely is not a net cost savings. What I mean is that if you assume 100% renewables, it is too easy to ignore what you have to do for storage, like lithium mining mitigation, or carbon capture for natural gas back-up.

    And really, we need an overall cost-benefit analysis over a century, not 1 year or 5 years.

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