- Associated Press - Friday, January 1, 2016

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Revisions to the state’s permit for large livestock operations, extensive new federal standards to protect groundwater from uranium mining and the state’s response to a new federal Clean Power Plan are poised to be among the top environmental issues facing South Dakota in 2016.

South Dakota appears to be in good shape to avoid drought conditions in 2016, and the state’s Public Utilities Commission may consider whether to re-approve the state’s segment of Keystone XL despite President Barack Obama’s rejection of the embattled pipeline project.

Here are some of the issues to be addressed in the coming year:


The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources will schedule a hearing early in 2016 on its draft revisions to the state’s permit for large livestock operations. In September, environmental and livestock groups gave largely favorable marks to the plan to update standards for protecting South Dakota’s water supply from manure and waste produced by large-scale animal feeding operations.

Updates range from requiring more information about the ownership of an operation - people with at least a 10 percent stake would be disclosed - to requiring feedlots to meet new standards for conservation plans used by livestock operations. There are about 420 permitted concentrated animal feeding operations in South Dakota, nearly all in the eastern part of the state.


The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources in 2016 will plan how to implement the federal Clean Power Plan in case a multistate lawsuit fails to stop the new rules. Attorney General Marty Jackley joined a lawsuit with 24 states opposing the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which seeks to reduce carbon emissions from electrical-generating plants.

DENR will seek public input in the coming months, request a two-year extension from EPA by the September deadline and then finalize a state Clean Power Plan for submittal to EPA by September 2018.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to move forward in 2016 with extensive new standards to protect groundwater from uranium mining.

The EPA proposed the standards in 2015 to account for how nearly all uranium produced in the U.S. nowadays comes from in-situ mining rather than conventional mining. In-situ mining involves pumping into the ground a solution to dissolve minerals, then pumping out of the ground a solution containing uranium. The EPA maintains it has authority under federal laws to update contamination standards for implementation by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Opponents say the EPA is overstepping its authority and endangering an industry.

In 2014, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a permit to Powertech Uranium Corp. for a proposed uranium mine in western South Dakota’s Black Hills.


After dealing with severe drought conditions through much of 2013, South Dakota appears to be in good shape for moisture heading into 2016. The U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook from the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center shows no areas of concern in the state through March 31.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows just a handful areas of South Dakota listed under the lowest “abnormally dry” conditions: Corson, McPherson, Edmunds and Marshall counties, the northern half of Roberts County, the northern tip of Perkins County and the far western parts of Pennington and Custer counties.


South Dakota’s Public Utilities Commission could decide early in 2016 whether to re-approve the state’s portion of the embattled Keystone XL pipeline project. Pipeline opponents argued in December that when President Barack Obama rejected the project, it should have put an end to the proceedings in South Dakota. But an attorney for TransCanada Corp., the company behind the proposed pipeline, said the company remains committed to the project and it could be revived under the next president.

TransCanada’s proposed pipeline would go from Canada through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines to carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day to refineries along the Gulf Coast. It would move about 100,000 barrels of oil daily from the western North Dakota oil patch.


Follow Dirk Lammers on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ddlammers

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide