Bil Napoli: Time to go to bat for DM&E

In today's Rapid City Journal, Bill Napoli is taking up the crusade for the DM&E Railroad's expansion and the hundreds, if not thousands of jobs it's going to bring to Western South Dakota, saying we need to organize as we did for the Ellsworth Air Force Base:
State Sen. Bill Napoli, a Republican who represents parts of Rapid City and Rapid Valley, said that the $6 billion railroad expansion would create 5,000 jobs during construction and 1,200 permanent jobs.

"The mine is a wonderful thing, but these are my kind of people," Napoli said. "These are blue-collar jobs."

The expansion would allow DM&E to carry coal from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming across South Dakota to power plants in eastern states.

Napoli said he will ask fellow legislators to create a "blue-ribbon" task force to find ways that the state can help the railroad. It would be similar to the Ellsworth Task Force that helped save the air base from closing.

The DM&E project, however, is more controversial than Ellsworth or Homestake, partly because the railroad, a private company, is asking for a $2.3 billion federal loan to help finance building 280 miles of track and upgrading 600 more miles.


Napoli said the railroad expansion would provide jobs and opportunities for spin-off companies. "DM&E will have a huge impact for many years," he said. "But at the state level, we appear to be doing nothing. There's not the same drive behind it as there has been for the mine."

Gov. Mike Rounds disagreed. He said his administration had been lobbying the federal government in support of the proposal for three years, urging approval of the $2.3 billion loan. "We've spoken with the OMB, and we've spoken directly with the secretary of transportation," Rounds said, urging approval of the federal loan.
Read it all here.

Have we as a state been doing enough? We have the Governor and the State's entire congressional delegation who all seem to be on board and very supportive of the project.

Or do we need to crank things up further and campaign for it as we did Ellsworth?


Anonymous said…
Have we as a state been doing enough?

Of course!

Governor Rounds has everything under control and is working well with our other political leaders.

Just keep everyone else out of it OK!
Anonymous said…
Wouldn't it be prudent to first determine if the project can attract private financing first - before we start talking about even more tax payer support? (As if the $2 billion federal loan isn't enough)

Do we really need more corporate welfare for a project that hasn't yet proved it can cash flow on its own?

We're already seeing the Social Moderates leave the GOP - I'd hate to see the Fiscal Conservatives lose their voice as well.
Anonymous said…
I've never been a big fan of Napoli, but this is the icing on the cake.

I think his estimates of how many permanent jobs this will attract and the amount of economic devopment this will mean to South Dakota are HIGHLY exaggerated.

And to put that much faith and tax payer money into a struggling railroad which can't even pay back its previous loan is just irresponsible.

The only way I would support the DM&E project is if they use some of the loan money they may or may not get to help Pierre, Brookings and other communities that would be drastically affected by this, to mitigate the problems that many trains through town would cause.

So far I have not seen any proof that the benefits of the DM&E project would outweight the negatives.
Anonymous said…
It's just outrageous that Thune got paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to lobby on behalf of DM&E, and as soon as he becomes a Senator he rewards DM&E with the biggest loan in the history of the federal government. It's just outrageous.

Honestly, who is he working for?
Anonymous said…
Well 9:34 AM, Governor Rounds, Senator Johnson, Rep. Herseth and other political and business leaders (Republicans and Democrats) in South Dakota say it's great for our State!

If that many leaders say it's excellent for our State then it is!

I don't have time to study this in depth so I am going to take their word for it! You just have to decide who you are going to trust and I trust them!

I guess you would say Senator Thune is working for US! I would expect nothing less.
Anonymous said…
But I also belive that part of the grant (loan) should be that they bypass major cities such as Brookings, Pierre and others. And of course the Mayo clinic area.

Seems likes that would be the fair thing to do.
Anonymous said…
Anon 9:18-I would humbly submit to you that the $275 Million-dollar "economic impact" argument made for Ellsworth was HIGHLY exaggerated as well. Especially when you realize that EAFB is a full-service base, with the BX and all associated tax-free amenities that that entails.

While DME may be a shaky railroad and Kevin Schieffer a fraud, you can never underestimate the importance of modernized transportation infrastructure.
Anonymous said…
If a business who can't find private funding maybe they have bad business model.

The pollution this will cause outweighs any benefit to the state. The 1200 jobs figure is exaggerated.

If we want to encourage rail expansion in the state or ask for federal dollars let's ask for an Amtrak line to connect eastern South Dakota to Fargo and Omaha. At least that provides a benefit to the people who live here.
Anonymous said…
Gee, now that all the last decade's worth of appeals are over and the STB will make a decision within a couple months, it's a great time to jump on board. Didn't Rapid City pass a support resolution something like five years ago?

Once again, he's opening his mouth to please his district and ignoring reality.
Anonymous said…
Let's see what he says the week after the first land condemnation notices go out and affected ranchers, also "his kind of people" start screaming.
Anonymous said…
Has Napoli flip-flopped on government support?
I recall him spouting off after Ellsworth was saved that all the money that was spent was a waste. Oh yeah, I forgot that since DM&E helped "his kind of people" it's ok to spend taxpayer dollars.
Anonymous said…
10:59's right. Let's see him introduce a bill recognizing DME's right to eminent domain and curtailing legal challenges from this point on. Just once, let's see him put his money where his massive mouth is and take a stand unpopular with his so-called "people".
Anonymous said…
Since Napoli said the lawsuit against Dyess and the hard work of our delegation is what saved Ellsworth, why should the strategy be any different now?
Let's just hope legal manuevering and die-hard support from our delegation gets us the rail and quit squandering money on task forces and state money.
Napoli is such a hypocrit when it benefits "his people"
Anonymous said…
11:05 is right on - the legal challenges against DM&E have all been won by DM&E but at great expense - to both DM&E (in terms of delay)and the state taxpayers. When the legislature hoghoused a change in the eminent domain laws the federal courts ruled it all unconstitutional except one small part - and ordered the state to pay DM&E's legal bills. I'm assuming Napoli would agree that was a waste.
Anonymous said…
It's a shame to see Napoli support this kind of corporate welfare.
Anonymous said…
Well that's the kiss of death!

Anytime Napoli is supports something, it usually goes down in flames.

And for you Napoli fans, he not only sad that it was a waste of tax payer money supporting Ellsworth, he also said the worst vote he every made was to support funding for the underground lab.
Anonymous said…
Napoli needs to think once in awhile, he doesn't do enough of it!
Anonymous said…
You people so funny! Always Napoli bashing, because you all are so intelligent. yada yada yada
Anonymous said…
Yawn, who cares what this clown says or wants.
Anonymous said…
2:51: smart or dumb has nothing to do with the posts here. It's the Senator's blatant political opportunism, rampant flip-flopping and headline grabbing that most everybody above has a problem with.
Anonymous said…
WOW "Naaaapoli" last year was a private landowners champion "open fields" by trying to stop the CO's from entering private property and standing up for the grerat landowners of NW SD.
This year he is supporting the taking of private property without
due process....
I think he should set with Kloucek and Sutton on the floor.
Anonymous said…
Napoli is a complete and utter moron, and I doubt the citizens of District 35 can even look any other citizens of this state in the eye.

Scheifer is greasier than Napoli.
Anonymous said…
I for one am glad that Napoli is backing DM&E. You folks complain about the cost of energy and our declining economy and when we have something like this that will be a boon, not only to South Dakota but to the nation, all you want to do is trash a guy who is doing his level best to help us all out.

You're pretty pathetic, if you ask me.
Anonymous said…
The loan is about 1/3 the total cost of the project. Private business often gets loans. USDA Rural Development, SBA, etc.

Thune is doing a great thing for SD. Not just banking on a hole in the ground that may or may not pay off in 20 years. Or whenever the contaminated water gets pumped out.
Anonymous said…
It would be cheaper to build the electric plants in Wyoming, where the coal is, and send it over transmission lines to the east coast. There is no way the DM&E will ever be able to pay this loan back. They have the worst safety record in the country. And is anybody thinking about the impact that 30 some mile long trains going through Pierre and Brookings will have on the people that live there. Do you want to be in an ambulance with minutes to live and get stuck waiting for one of these trains to go by? This is a bad idea and more power to the Mayo Clinic to derail it.

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