A fall 2022 view of Rapid City from the hills above the South Dakota Mines campus. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)
After the state declined to seek federal grant money to reduce greenhouse gases and other air pollution, Rapid City has decided to apply and Sioux Falls is considering it.
South Dakota is one of four states that have not applied to participate in the Climate Pollution Reduction Grant program. It would have provided state government with $3 million for planning and access to a $4.6 billion fund for implementation. The other states that did not apply by the March 31 deadline are Florida, Iowa and Kentucky.
The program also includes $1 million in planning grants for each of the nation’s largest cities — including Rapid City and Sioux Falls — and access to the $4.6 billion grant pool for implementation if municipalities apply by April 28.
The Rapid City Council voted Monday evening to authorize its staff to apply. Sioux Falls has not yet taken action.
“We intend to gather information over the coming weeks and make a final decision on participation by the program’s deadline,” said Holly Meier, Sioux Falls sustainability coordinator.
A spokesman for Governor Kristi Noem said the state declined to apply because of concerns that more federal spending will make inflation worse, and because of possible “strings attached” to the money.
“We focus on solving long-term problems with one-time investments rather than creating new government programs,” said Ian Fury. “We either decline or return money that we don’t need, as we did when President Trump offered extended unemployment benefits in August 2020, and as we did when we returned more than $80 million in federal renter’s assistance money in 2022.”
The Climate Pollution Reduction funding was allocated by last year’s Inflation Reduction Act and is designated for state and municipal government projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help mitigate climate change. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane trap heat in the atmosphere.
The funding would have helped South Dakota develop its own approach to climate change, according to Kara Hoving, a climate equity policy researcher and spokesperson for SoDak 350, an affiliate of the international environmental organization 350.org.
Hoving said everything from conservation incentives for farmers to energy efficiency aid for families was on the table.
“There weren’t any mandates about the specific actions you had to include in your plan,” she said. “It could have included agriculture, cover crops, all these things the people in this state support.”
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