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DC offering local environmental, emergency agencies little guidance

In case of emergency, go to the strip mall or the hospital?
South Dakota emergency managers heard from the EPA at their quarterly meeting this week

South Dakota’s Emergency Response Commission heard from regional Environmental Protection Agency voices at a meeting Tuesday.

The board heard from representatives from EPA Region 8, which spans from the Dakotas to Utah. It also includes the tribal nations in the same area.

While part of the federal government, organizations like the EPA play a role in informing local decision making, training opportunities, and direction.

According to Breanne Bockstahler, an EPA coordinator for Region 8, instruction from the top remains unclear.

“As far as movement on regulations, unfortunately we haven’t heard much from headquarters," Bockstahler said. "Clean Water Act, hazardous substances, the discharge for chemicals to water, we’re still waiting to hear the final flavor from headquarters. At least legally, something will have to be complete by next September.”

Bockstahler said the nation’s capital works at its own pace.

“I know things move pretty slow when it moves through the DC route, so we’re just waiting to hear if it’s going to be any changes or what kind of trainings, we can really start putting some teeth into and start moving forward with,” Bockstahler said.

While DC lurches, some resources are already available for states.

“As far as the training goes, some of the highlights that we would be able to offer would be a shorter cameo-level, an “aloha training” course," Bockstahler said. "Error monitoring for emergency responders, error monitoring for hazmat training, radiation safety overview training, we’ve done oil spill response training – and those can be really tailored to what you wanted.”

The boards next meeting is in September.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture