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U.S. Senate GOP tries to block states from spending some of their COVID relief cash • South Dakota Searchlight

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U.S. Senate GOP tries to block states from spending some of their COVID relief cash • South Dakota Searchlight


WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate on Wednesday rejected efforts to roll back guidance from the Treasury Department regarding how state and local governments can spend funding approved by Congress during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 46-49 vote on the Congressional Review Act resolution ended an attempt by several GOP senators to block the Biden administration from changing the definition of “obligation” as it relates to State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds and the timeline for spending some of that money.

Missouri Republican Sen. Eric Schmitt said during floor debate that the Treasury Department’s change in guidance, which was released in November, was trying to “pull a fast one” on Congress.

“Treasury’s attempted sleight of hand to keep the COVID spending spigot on is an insult to Congress and those who believe in our Constitution, as well as a complete misuse of taxpayer dollars,” Schmitt said.

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The fund for state and local governments, Schmitt said, was intended to assist with “revenue shortfalls tied to the COVID-19 pandemic” and the law clearly stated that “all costs incurred with money from this fund must be incurred by Dec. 31, 2024.”

The interim final rule that the Treasury Department released around Thanksgiving extended that deadline by two years for “administrative and legal costs, such as compliance costs and internal control requirements,” he said.

“This rule ensures that funding does not go to bridges or broadband, but to bureaucrats,” Schmitt said.

Projects affected in multiple states

Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden spoke against the CRA resolution during floor debate, saying it could have impacted 17 projects in Georgia, 160 in Michigan, 342 in Ohio, 50 in Arizona, 404 in Montana and 73 in West Virginia.

“Nationwide there could be thousands of projects closed. Tens or even hundreds of jobs lost,” Wyden said. “This one is one of the most unusual votes that I’ve seen recently, a true head scratcher.”

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Wyden said he didn’t “see a good reason for the United States Senate to backtrack on solid, bipartisan progress and have this chamber act in a way that leaves more of our nation’s infrastructure in a state of disrepair.”

Schmitt said during a press conference before the vote that the claim the CRA resolution would have impacted projects already underway was a lie.

“Essentially the obligations that are committed before the end of 2024, according to existing law, will be honored,” Schmitt said. “What this says is that you can’t extend that out into ’25 and ’26. That was never the congressional intent here.”

Kansas Republican Sen. Roger Marshall, also speaking at the GOP press conference, said the CRA resolution would claw back about $13 billion and went as far as calling it “illegal spending.”

“The clock is going to run out, but Joe Biden is trying to circumvent the law once again,” Marshall said, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic is over and spending from those laws needs to wind down.

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Counties, cities opposed

Schmitt introduced the two-page CRA resolution in February along with Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Mike Braun of Indiana, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Marshall and Rick Scott of Florida.

The National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities and the Government Finance Officers Association urged lawmakers to vote against the CRA in a written statement released Wednesday before the vote.

“The $350 billion SLFRF provided $65.1 billion to every city and county in America, and since 2021, localities have used these crucial resources to meet the unique needs of residents and support long-term economic prosperity,” the statement read.

The three organizations wrote that the Treasury Department’s interim final rule “recognized the importance of flexibility in facilitating the effective rollout of recovery funds, including our ability to use funds for certain personnel costs and to re-obligate funds where necessary.”

The White House released a Statement of Administration Policy on Wednesday, saying that President Joe Biden would veto the CRA had it reached his desk.

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The CRA resolution, it said, “could result in projects being canceled midstream, reduced project management and oversight, and higher costs as state and local governments are forced to contract out programs.”

“Nearly all SLFRF funds have been committed to projects, including infrastructure and disaster relief projects made eligible by bipartisan legislation,” the SAP read. “S.J. Res. 57 would create unnecessary uncertainty for recipients that are executing on projects, jeopardize important work underway, and inappropriately constrain Treasury’s ability to address ongoing implementation issues.”

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South Dakota

New solar will help keep power on during scorching summer, report says • South Dakota Searchlight

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New solar will help keep power on during scorching summer, report says • South Dakota Searchlight


With some parts of the country already facing heat waves, the organization in charge of setting reliability standards for the American electric grid is warning that a scorching summer could lead to a shortage of power generation in some regions.

The warning comes as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says there’s a 99% chance that 2024 will rank among the five warmest years on record and 55% chance it will be the hottest on record.

Overall, though, the analysis by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation painted a rosier picture than last year’s report, in part because of a surge in solar power development.

The nation has enough energy supply to handle normal peak demand, called “load” in the electric industry, largely because of 25 gigawatts of new solar power capacity — at full capacity that’s the rough equivalent maximum output of 25 large fossil or nuclear power plants. (The number of homes that can be powered from one gigawatt of solar can vary widely across the country). But the new panels have helped move some areas from what NERC calls “elevated risk” of power shortfalls in last year’s analysis  to “normal risk” this year.

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“Resource additions are providing needed capacity to keep up with rising peak demand in most areas,” Mark Olson, the organization’s manager of reliability assessments, told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Thursday. New power transfer agreements, growth in demand response programs, which incentivize customers to reduce power usage during times of grid stress, and delayed power plant retirements “are also contributing to an overall improved resource outlook for the upcoming summer,” NERC says.

A solar surge

A separate FERC staff presentation said solar will make up 10% of overall national electric generation capacity by the end of this summer, with natural gas providing 42%, coal providing 14% and wind power at 13%.

Solar power is growing fast across the country, with the U.S. hitting five million total solar installations (most of them residential), per the Solar Energy Industries Association. Reaching that milestone took 50 years, but the industry group projects that hitting 10 million solar installations will only take six years. Solar power for the first time accounted for more than half of new electric generation capacity added in 2023, the group noted.

Federal solar power grants include $260 million for South Dakota tribes, rural areas

The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects “a record addition” of new utility-scale solar power this year, with about 36.4 gigawatts projected to be installed. More than half of that new capacity is planned for Texas, California and Florida.The Gemini facility scheduled to begin operation this year near Las Vegas, with a planned solar capacity of nearly 700 megawatts and battery storage capacity of up to 380 megawatts, is expected to become the nation’s largest solar project. Battery storage is also growing rapidly, with more than 14 gigawatts expected to be added this year, according to the EIA. Batteries complement solar generation well, since solar’s peak production doesn’t generally line up with peak demand on the grid, which happens later in the day. Batteries allow excess solar power to be banked for when it’s needed.

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But a changing power mix also comes with new challenges and risks, NERC warned.

In his presentation to FERC, Olson said that while the overall summer electric reliability outlook has improved, some regions are seeing what he described as growing risks during extreme weather.

“Shortages could occur when demand is high and solar, wind or hydro output are low,” he said.

Those regions include parts of the Midwest and South in the grid area managed by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, New England, Texas, much of the Southwest and California. Grid operators, though, are becoming increasingly adept at planning and running electric grids with large amounts of intermittent resources.

“It’s refreshing to finally get the recognition that renewables can help with reliability,” said Simon Mahan, executive director of the Southern Renewable Energy Association.

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Shifting seasons and climate change

While most of the country has historically been “summer-peaking,” meaning regions hit their highest demand for electricity during the summer months, some areas are increasingly seeing demand spike in winter, a trend that is expected to continue as result of heating electrification, other decarbonization policies and more extreme, protracted cold weather events. Indeed, the majority of recent electric grid failures have been during severe winter weather, such as Winter Storm Elliott in 2022, which caused blackouts in several southern states and Uri in 2021, which caused a catastrophic collapse of the Texas electric grid that caused an estimated 246 deaths.

Regulators approve early start for largest solar farm in state

But summer heat still poses risks, NERC says, contributing to both high demand and power plant outages, such as at natural gas power plants.

“Last summer brought record temperatures, extended heat waves and wildfires to large parts of North America,” the organization said. And though energy emergency alerts were few and no electricity supply interruptions happened as a result of insufficient power resources, grid operators “faced significant challenges and drew upon procedures and protocols to obtain all available resources, manage system demand and ensure that energy is delivered over the transmission network to meet the system demand.” Utilities and state and local officials in many areas also “used mechanisms and public appeals to lower customer demand during periods of strained supplies,” NERC added.

Christy Walsh, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Sustainable FERC Project, said the reliability reports show how climate change is central to the pressures facing the electric grid.

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“And it needs to be at the center of our solutions too,” she said in a statement to States Newsroom. “Earlier and more intense hurricanes brought on by increasing sea temperatures are a new and noteworthy concern, and this underscores the need for more large-scale transmission and connections between regions. Most of the new additions were wind, solar and storage, and last summer especially we saw just how crucial these resources can be during extreme heat events. We need to make sure we have a grid that can withstand the weather and move resources around during times of stress.”

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South Dakota airport terminals to get upgrade

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South Dakota airport terminals to get upgrade


PIERRE, S.D. (KELO.com) — Airport improvements are about to take-off.

The South Dakota Department of Transportation announced the launch of the South Dakota Airport Terminal Program.

The program will support airport terminal projects across the state.

$10 million in funding was allocated by the state legislature in the 2024 legislative session.

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These are one-time appropriations, and applicants must meet strict guidelines and be approved by administrators of the program, who will determine amounts to be granted.



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South Dakota Family Gets Actual Brain Worms After Eating THIS! – Perez Hilton

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South Dakota Family Gets Actual Brain Worms After Eating THIS! – Perez Hilton


Members of an extended family (not pictured above) gathered last month in South Dakota for a much-anticipated family reunion, but disaster struck when SIX of them came down with trichinellosis!

If you don’t know what trichinellosis is, don’t worry — we didn’t either until just a minute ago. LOLz! Basically, trichinellosis is the medical term for what we casually might call “brain worms.” Like, literal brain worms! Real, actual tiny worms deposited inside a human being’s brain and releasing larvae and wreaking havoc! SO gross!!!

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the Dakota family gathering went south after six relatives came down with worms. The unnamed family members hailed from Arizona and Minnesota in addition to South Dakota itself. And one specific thing they ate at the gathering is thought to be the cause: undercooked bear meat!! Yes, we said bear.

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Per the CDC, one family member brought a bunch of bear meat to the gathering. They’d frozen it prior to the reunion with the intention of killing any parasites in it. But that apparently didn’t work out so well! At the reunion, the meat was “thawed and grilled with vegetables” according to the CDC. Then, it was doled out to family members in the form of kabobs.

As the CDC later determined, the meat didn’t actually get cooked right the first time! Not even close, in fact! The public health outfit stated:

“[The bear meat was] initially inadvertently served rare, reportedly because the meat was dark in color, and it was difficult for the family members to visually ascertain the level of doneness.”

Uh-oh!

Thankfully, one family member in attendance piped up once they noted the bear meat wasn’t fully cooked. So, the meat was “recooked before being served again.” But it was too late for six members of the family who’d eaten enough of the meat to start suffering the parasitic effects of the microscopic worms hidden inside!!

Days later, a 29-year-old man who’d been at the family gathering and eaten the meat became severely ill. His sickness got so bad he was hospitalized twice in two weeks. When doctors noticed his symptoms — including swelling around the eyes and severe muscle aches — they asked him to think back to what he’d recently eaten. That’s when he informed them about the bear meat at the reunion, and a connection was made.

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Doctors suspected trichinellosis, notified the local department of public health, and ordered a Trichinella immunoglobulin (Ig) G antibody test for the man to confirm their hypothesis. Sure enough, it came back positive. When public health officials started re-tracing all the family members who’d been at the South Dakota gathering, they determined six of them ranging in age from 12 to 62 had gotten ill! And here’s the crazy part: two of those six didn’t eat ANY of the bear meat! Just the vegetables with which it had been grilled! So, the worms were able to transfer over to the veggies, too?! Whoa!!

Two more of those six had to be hospitalized due to their sicknesses, but thankfully, all six recovered. They were given antiparasitic medications meant to kill the adult brain worms and prevent further release of larvae, and that was that. But still, DAMN!

FYI, the CDC claims that even though undercooked pork is usually the source of a trichinellosis infection, bear meat is thought to have been responsible for the majority of trichinellosis outbreaks in the United States in the last decade. So, if you’re going to eat bear meat — or any meat — make sure it’s fully cooked!!

[Image via ABC/Facebook/Peacock/YouTube.]

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