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State skips out on $3 million to craft emissions reduction plan


The State of South Dakota is leaving millions of federal dollars on the table that could be spent on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

It’s one of four states that won’t access that money funded by the Inflation Reduction Act. The lack of action opens the door for the state's largest cities to access the money.

Last year’s Inflation Reduction Act unlocked billions of dollars for states to implement plans to reduce carbon emissions.

States had a deadline of Friday, March 31, to submit a notice of intent to participate. The form, which is less than a page long, would unlock $3 million for the state to draft plans to reduce emissions.

Kara Hoving is a communications coordinator at SoDak 350, a nonpartisan grassroots climate action organization.

“The great thing is that it could look however South Dakota wanted it to," Hoving said. "The fact that South Dakota is passing up this opportunity is disappointing.”

Hoving said The Climate Pollution Reduction Grant program gives each state the flexibly to reduce carbon emissions in its own way.

Hoving said that includes expanding current wind energy capacity, more solar energy production, implement more soil management or riparian buffer strips. It could also use the money to set up home weatherization and building efficiency grants.

North Dakota, Nebraska and Wyoming opted into the program.

Environmental Protection Agency

A spokesperson for the Gov. Kristi Noem’s office categorized the federal fund as “wasteful spending” that often comes with strings attached.

"To be sure, South Dakota invests the money that we receive wisely," Ian Fury said in an email. "We focus on solving long-term problems with one-time investments rather than creating new government programs."

Fury points to a WalletHub study that show South Dakota is the 9th greenest state in the country.

The lack of action at the state level opens the door for South Dakota’s two largest cities to access that money.

Rapid City has already signaled its intent to authorize staff to apply for and accept $1 million for the planning grant.

Sioux Falls is researching the facts about potential participation in the program, according to Sustainability Coordinator Holly Meier.

"We intend to gather information over the coming weeks and make a final decision on participation by the program’s deadline," Meier said.

Cities have until April 28 to apply and the end of May to submit a workplan to the EPA. That could unlock their ability to access a nationwide pool of money totaling $4.6 billion.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.