South Dakota Environmental Issues
Volkswagen Settlement - South Dakota Mitigation Trust
On January 24, 2016, the United States and the State of California filed a lawsuit against Volkswagen (VW) alleging it had manufactured diesel cars sold and operated in the U.S. beginning in 2009 with systems intended to defeat emissions tests. These systems allowed vehicles to emit nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution at levels that significantly exceeded the amounts allowed under the Clean Air Act. Volkswagen has agreed to settle some of these allegations. One portion of the settlement requires Volkswagen to fund an Environmental Mitigation Trust to be used to offset the lifetime excess nitrogen oxide emissions emitted by the Volkswagen vehicles in violation of the Clean Air Act. The fund is distributed among states, territories and federally-recognized tribes based on the proportion of affected VW diesel vehicles registered in each jurisdiction. South Dakota expects to receive $8.125 million dollars from the Environmental Mitigation Trust. But first the state must develop a Beneficiary Mitigation Plan for allocating mitigation funds to produce the greatest air quality benefit in terms of nitrogen oxide emission reductions and reduced public exposure. Categories of eligible vehicles and equipment are:
1. Class 8 local freight trucks and port drayage trucks
2. Class 4-8 school buses, shuttle buses or transit buses
3. Freight switcher locomotives
4. Ferries and tugs
5. Ocean going vessels shorepower
6. Class 4-7 local freight trucks
7. Airport ground support equipment
8. Forklifts and port cargo handling equipment
9. Light duty Zero Emissions Vehicle supply equipment
10. Matching funds for projects eligible under the federal Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA)
The Plan will be developed through a public process, and then be approved by the Trustee. DENR has developed a web page at http://denr.sd.gov/des/aq/aaVW.aspx to keep the public informed as the process continues.
30th Annual Environmental and Ground Water Quality Conference Scheduled for March 2018
The 30th Annual Environmental and Ground Water Quality Conference dates have been set for March 28-29, 2018, at the Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center in Pierre. The conference was started by the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources in 1989 as a means to periodically inform environmental consultants working in the state of any updates to the regulations. While the conference still performs this function it has expanded to include professional talks covering the environmental topics of the day and the latest technologies in assessing and remediating soil and ground water. The conference is free and open to the public. The Call for Speakers and event information can be found on DENR’s website at http://denr.sd.gov/GWQConference/.
New Buffer Strip Property Tax Incentive Map
DENR has added a map of waterbodies eligible for property tax incentive to the department’s interactive database maps online at http://denr.sd.gov/datagis.aspx. Under Senate Bill 66, introduced by Gov. Dennis Daugaard and referred to by legislators as “the buffer bill,” eligible riparian buffer strips are assessed at 60 percent of the land’s agricultural income value. The bill specifies 575 lake listings and 11,000 miles of streams that are eligible. County maps of eligible lakes and streams are available on the site for downloading. For information about the property tax incentive, visit the Department of Revenue website at http://dor.sd.gov/bufferstrips.
General Permit for CAFOs Reissued
The General Water Pollution Control Permit for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) has been reissued and is now effective. The 429 livestock operations covered under the existing general permit now have one to four years to apply for and obtain coverage under the new reissued permit. DENR will send letters to all permitted operations with information about the process and deadlines for applying. For more about the reissued general permit, visit http://denr.sd.gov/des/fp/cafo.aspx.
DENR Issues Air Quality Permit for Proposed Soybean Processing Plant Near Aberdeen
DENR has issued a Prevention of Significant Deterioration Air Quality permit to Ag Processing Inc., a proposed soybean processing plant to be built near Aberdeen. Issuance of the permit was delayed earlier this month when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provided comments during the public notice period for the draft permit. DENR Air Quality Program staff provided written responses to each of EPA’s comments. Only after EPA confirmed it does not intend to contest the final permit could the department issue the permit, which allows Ag Processing Inc. to move forward with construction.
Governor Comments on Corps Surplus Waters Rulemaking
Gov. Dennis Daugaard recently called the proposed Army Corps of Engineers surplus waters rulemaking “unacceptable to South Dakota.” The proposed rule expands federal storage right claims for the Missouri River reservoirs to include all water stored in the dams and rejects the state’s right to manage and allocate any natural flows. The Governor wrote, “South Dakota respectfully requests the US Army Corps of Engineers to reject the current proposed rule and end this federal take-over attempt of nearly all the Missouri River water in South Dakota.” The Governor’s comment letter can be read in its entirety at http://denr.sd.gov/gov_corpruleletter.pdf.