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Associated Press, Published May 24 2013

Mock drill in SD riles Keystone pipeline opponents

HOT SPRING, S.D. (AP) — An emergency drill in Hot Springs has outraged opponents of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and a proposed uranium mine in western South Dakota after it portrayed the groups as domestic terrorists.

The Hot Springs School District on Tuesday practiced a lockdown after pretending to receive a letter from a group that wrote "things dear to everyone will be destroyed unless continuation of the Keystone pipeline and uranium mining is stopped immediately."

The school district and county have been bombarded with emails and calls about the drill from people who felt it unfairly demonized opponents of the proposed oil pipeline from Canada to Texas and a proposed uranium mine near Edgemont.

Don Kelley, a farmer near Nemo who opposes both projects because he fears they might contaminate local groundwater supplies, told the Rapid City Journal (http://bit.ly/12S5HBk ) that he and others want a formal apology.

"The opponents are about as non-violent bunch of people as you can imagine," he said. "They are just plain concerned and have raised issues of the safety of both those projects."

Kelley said it was particularly concerning that children in Hot Springs were being taught to fear people who raise environmental and land-use concerns.

Lilias Jarding, a professor of environmental policy and a member of the Black Hills Clean Water Alliance, which opposes the proposed uranium mine, said no opposing group has ever threatened a school.

"That's why this is so insulting to so many people in South Dakota," she said.

Fall River County Emergency Manager Frank Maynard said an outside group of people in South Dakota with a stake in emergency management issues devised the scenario and he did not know what was being used as the source of the threat for Tuesday's drill until after it was carried out. He declined to identify any members of the group or where they are based, saying, "I'm not throwing anyone under the bus."

Maynard said the focus was on the drill itself, rather than on the fabricated threat, and organizers of the drill never intended to insult opponents of Keystone XL or uranium mining.

"It's something that will never happen again, because we will be a lot more selective on what we use," he said.


Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.