by Ken Bingenheimer

August 12, 2010

Is Sturgis, SD, a noisy place during the current motorcycle rally? Do Harleys roar? Yes, of course they do, and in the entire Black Hills region that roar translates into dollars.

South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds was not overly distraught then Tuesday when he learned he had been named to the monthly “Noisy Dozen” list put out by New York-based Noise Free America.

The group’s press release had this to say:

Mike Rounds, the governor of South Dakota, has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America for participating in the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota held from August 9 to August 15, 2010. On August 9, Governor Rounds rode in the 8th annual Mayor’s Ride at Sturgis. The Associated Press reports that the Sturgis event, in its 70th year, is “expected to attract as many as 750,000 people, making it home to the highest concentration ever of chrome, leather, and tattoos.”

In reality, the Sturgis event is probably the largest concentration ever of lawbreakers. And Mike Rounds, the governor of South Dakota, gave aid and comfort to this massive lawbreaking.

The federal Noise Control Act of 1972 states that it is illegal for motorcyclists to remove or alter their exhaust for the purpose of making additional noise. Also, the Act limits motorcycle noise to 82 decibels. In 1983, the EPA enacted a label match-up program, which requires that motorcycles have a stamp proving that the factory exhaust has not been altered.

Noise Free America’s director, Ted Rueter, stated that “clearly, most motorcycles on the road today have illegal exhausts. Many people seem to think that motorcycles are naturally noisy; this is not the case. Motorcycles are quiet when they leave the factory; they are obnoxiously loud because of the deliberate, illegal actions of their owners.”

According to Rueter, “instead of celebrating ear-splitting noise, the governor of South Dakota should deploy the state police to issue hundreds of thousands of citations to noise violators. Governor Rounds is condoning the world’s largest concentration of noise criminals.”

According to a report from the Rapid City Journal, Gov. Rounds is unrepentant.

“We don’t mind a little noise out here in South Dakota, whether we’re riding Harleys or shooting the state game bird,” Rounds said. “I can take the criticism, I guess. I think I’ll continue to ride.”

Meanwhile, at a press conference held in Sturgis by Mayor Maury LaRue and various motorcycle industry representatives, this year’s rally is going very well, with vendors reporting significantly higher numbers than last year and some setting records in sales. The city also has numbers reflecting high attendance: the volume of sewage removed from the city’s portable toilets was up 17.5 percent as of Tuesday.