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Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, Jan. 22, 2015
Snuff proposed ban on smoking in city parks
After a nudge from a former member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, the city is considering a smoking ban for its 1,650-acre park system.
Advisory Board member Chuck Tinant got the ball rolling after he recently was asked by Jeff Schild if the city was pursuing the smoking ban. A young daughter of Schild, who now lives in Bismarck, North Dakota, was apparently exposed to secondhand smoke last year in a park while he was the advisory board president.
Tinant told the Rapid City Journal that he too supports the smoking ban, pointing out this is a public health issue and that young children in particular deserve a smoke-free environment while enjoying city parks.
The proposal comes at a time when smoking bans in city parks are spreading like wildfire across the nation. According to the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, more than 1,000 communities have instituted bans or designated smoke-free parks, and a Google search shows many other municipalities are considering similar actions at this time.
Three questions, however, come to mind almost immediately when the proposed smoking ban is discussed.
First, is it even enforceable and, if not, why bother? Secondly, is this a problem in an expansive park system where it is not difficult to find a quiet spot? Third, would this put Rapid City on the slippery slope of becoming a nanny state of sorts?
Advisory Board member Karen Gundersen Olson addressed the enforcement issue when she said, "We don't want our police walking around the parks giving out tickets for smoking."
Olson makes a good point. The city's parks already have a leash law for dogs that seems to be rarely enforced at best. So why add another ordinance that could only be selectively enforced?
It also is unclear if smokers are creating problems at parks. The only complaint that has been publicized to date was initiated by someone who no longer lives in Rapid City.
Cigarette smoking is not to be condoned as those who chose to indulge in this habit are exposing themselves to serious health risks. It is not, however, a city's job to craft ordinances that make statements or fulfill someone's personal agenda.
New ordinances should only be approved after it is demonstrated that a need exists for them. Absent that, the laws become nothing more than government looking down its nose and telling people how to live their lives, which is a direct contradiction to how we represent ourselves in western South Dakota.
If those who support this measure can point to reasons beyond possibly exposing a child to secondhand smoke, then and only then does this measure merit serious consideration of local elected officials.
Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, Jan. 19, 2015
Pipelines necessary in oil-addicted world
Here is a tale of two proposed pipelines that could run through South Dakota.
The diameter of Pipeline 1 is 36 inches. Pipeline 2 is 30 inches.
The proposed length of Pipeline 1 will be 1,179 miles. Pipeline 2 is 1,134 miles.
Pipeline 1 will carry 830,000 barrels of oil a day. Pipeline 2? Up to 570,000 barrels.
The first pipeline would cut through western South Dakota en route to Nebraska. The second through eastern South Dakota, including the Sioux Falls area, to a final destination of Illinois.
One of those pipelines has created a national political controversy. The other? Had you even heard of it?
Keystone XL, the first pipeline in our examples, has caused picketing and political posturing. The second, the Dakota Access Pipeline, was first announced last summer. Unless the pipeline was proposed to cross your land, most people have been undeterred.
That doesn't mean we should accept the pipeline without asking questions or learning as much as we possibly can.
All residents in the area should be asking: What are the risks? Who will be monitoring and regulating the pipeline for leaks and other issues? What are the emergency shutoff procedures? Who will pay for any problems that arise from a leak?
But it's no surprise that when politics enter the picture, talking points get thrown about, facts get forgotten and the issue becomes one big argument.
Here are a few key points.
— Pipelines are much safer than oil transportation by rail and more practical than truck. A train crash in Quebec in 2013 killed 47 people and spilled 1.5 million gallons of oil. There was a close call in North Dakota when several rail cars caught fire. If that incident had happened in a populated area, property damage would have been significant and lives could have been lost. As far as truck transportation, Forbes estimated it would take a million-and-a-half tanker trucks to transport the Keystone equivalent oil.
Pipelines have had their problems, though. In 2013, a Tesoro Corp. pipeline spilled 20,600 barrels, which is 865,200 gallons, in northwestern North Dakota. The worst was in Michigan in 2010 when an Enbridge pipeline spilled more than 25,000 barrels into a river. There is an environmental impact from pipelines, and Dakota Access advocates need to reassure the public that the new pipeline won't have those problems.
— Transporting oil via pipeline is significantly cheaper. A 2013 Christian Science Monitor article stated that it costs $7 a barrel to transport oil on a pipeline compared to between $15.50 and $30 via rail.
— Pipelines already are a key part of everyday life. There are pipelines carrying natural gas to homes across the city and surrounding areas. The first phase of the Keystone Pipeline already crosses eastern South Dakota.
— For opponents, the Keystone Pipeline also is an environmental issue — mining a barrel from Canada's oil sands creates 17 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than the extraction of a standard barrel of oil, according to the Washington Post. North Dakota oil is not clean, either, but blocking pipeline plans won't stop the production. It still will travel by rail and alternative pipelines. To fix carbon emissions, the focus should be on the demand, not supply.
The Keystone Pipeline only became a national political issue because it crosses the U.S. border from Canada, thus involving the State Department.
It's OK to be skeptical of what those proposing the pipeline claim. A 2011 Argus Leader story showed that the eastern South Dakota Keystone pipeline wasn't raising as much tax revenue for local governments as officials had originally stated.
So as the Dakota Access Pipeline gets debated in the coming months, educate yourself about the pros and cons, and our reporters will continue to uncover as much as they can. Make your decisions based on logic, science and facts and not on political soundbites.
Weigh the risks of all choices and consider the options, but rejecting Keystone XL or Dakota Access won't solve the greater problem: The world has an insatiable appetite for oil.
The bottom line is that there is no perfect solution — no option that completely protects the environment, property and public safety.
But pipelines are the best option.
The Daily Republic, Mitchell, Jan. 20, 2015
Salgado should sit in prison if he wants death penalty
Following a jury's verdict last week convicting Maricela Diaz of murder and kidnapping, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said he would be reviewing Alexander Salgado's testimony from the trial.
Salgado is the father of Diaz's child and was her boyfriend during the 2009 murder of Jasmine Guevara. In 2010, Salgado admitted to killing Guevara as a part of a plea deal, which included a promise to testify against Diaz during her trial. In exchange for Salgado's promise to testify, the prosecution agreed not seek the death penalty for Salgado.
Salgado was brought into the courtroom during Diaz's trial and was nothing short of combative. He answered a few questions about his background, but became disruptive with vulgar language and finally refused to testify altogether.
The judge ordered Salgado to answer questions, or be held in contempt of court. The judge also told Salgado, "If you refuse to answer under oath today, I may make the determination that you're unavailable and then the state will be allowed to give the jury testimony you gave during the juvenile release hearing."
Salgado responded by cursing and saying, "Do what you got to do."
Following the case, Jackley said he would review Salgado's testimony to see if he was in violation of his plea agreement. If Salgado was in violation, the attorney general will then pursue "the appropriate remedy," he said in a statement after the trial.
In a phone interview Tuesday with The Daily Republic's editorial board, Jackley said he has not reviewed Salgado's testimony from the trial, and he won't make any decisions until after Diaz is sentenced, which will be weeks away.
Our immediate reaction after Salgado's testimony, or lack thereof, is that he was likely being combative so he could receive the death penalty. Salgado has been in custody since the murder, now for more than five years, and the 26-year-old probably has realized he would rather die than spend the rest of his life behind bars.
We'll never actually know if Salgado was being resistant in court to increase his chance at the death penalty, but the reaction, "Do what you got to do" leads us to believe that was exactly his motive.
If Salgado actually wants the death penalty, we feel he should sit in prison. He probably was in violation of his plea agreement on the stand, and he likely did that on purpose. But someone who committed such a heinous crime as Salgado — who, with Diaz, stabbed and burned Guevara in the trunk of a car — shouldn't have a decision in the matter.
Perhaps the best punishment for Salgado is for him to live with what he did. The death penalty is too easy of a way out for him.