Regional Haze Program

South Dakota’s Second Round State Implementation Plan Draft

South Dakota is developing its second round Regional Haze State Implementation Plan. Once South Dakota completes its process, the second round Regional Haze State Implementation Plan will be submitted to EPA for approval.

“Regional haze” is a “visibility impairment that is caused by the emission of air pollutants from numerous anthropogenic sources located over a wide geographic area. Such sources include, but are not limited to, major and minor stationary sources, mobile sources, and area sources.” This visibility impairment is a result of anthropogenic emissions of particles and gases in the atmosphere that scatter and absorb (i.e., extinguish) light, thus acting to reduce overall visibility. The Regional Haze Rule requires states to submit a series of State Implementation Plans to protect visibility in Class I areas, such as Badlands National Park and Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota.

On 9/15/2021, the draft State Implementation Plan was submitted to the Federal Land Managers to begin their 60-day review period. On November 12, 2021, the draft State Implementation was public noticed to begin the required 30-day public comment period. A hearing in front of the Board of Minerals and Environment is scheduled to occur on December 16th, 2021. The draft State Implementation Plan is currently available for viewing and for public comment here.

5 Year Progress Report
DENR is required to report every five years on the progress of its approved Regional Haze Program. DENR’s first progress report was submitted to EPA on January 27, 2016. On March 19, 2018 EPA public noticed its intent to approve DENR’s 5 Year Progress Report. EPA’s comment period for its intent to approve closed April 18, 2018. DENR is waiting on EPA to public notice its final decision in the federal register. Click Here to view the full proposal of EPA’s action on the proposed rule. To view South Dakota’s 5 Year Progress Report Click Here.

Future Regional Haze SIP
The federal Regional Haze Rule requires each state to conduct a full update of its Regional Haze Program every ten years. The first update was originally due in 2018, however on January 20, 2017, EPA finalized revisions to the Regional Haze Rule to streamline, strengthen, and clarify certain aspects of the Regional Haze Program. One of the revisions to the rule was updating the State Implementation Plan submittal deadline for the second planning period from July 31, 2018 to July 31, 2021. Click Here to view all of the final rule revisions.

DANR is currently working on its 2021 Regional Haze State Implementation Plan revision and will include updates as they are drafted.

Smoke Management Plan
South Dakotas’ approved Regional Haze Program commits to developing a Smoke Management Plan as part of a long-term strategy to minimize the impact of prescribed fires on Class I areas. Currently, DENR is reviewing the contribution to regional haze past prescribed burns and wildfires have had on South Dakota’s two Class I areas. This analysis will help determine the area the Smoke Management Plan will cover.

The next step will be to work with state, federal, local, and tribal governmental agencies and the public to determine the best management practices for conducting prescribed fires in order to reduce their impact on Class I areas.

What is Regional Haze?
Regional haze is visibility impairment caused by air pollution in the form of small particles scattering or absorbing light. Air pollution that impairs visibility is generated over a wide geographic area stemming from a variety of natural (nonanthropogenic) and manmade (anthropogenic) sources. Natural sources can include windblown dust and smoke from wildfires. Manmade sources can include motor vehicles, fuel burning equipment, and manufacturing operations. Some particles are directly emitted into the air, while others are formed when gases emitted into the air form particles as they are carried many miles from the source of the pollutants.

The composition of visibility impairing particulates is very complex. Some particles are emitted directly from nonanthropogenic and anthropogenic sources into the air, while others form as a result of mixing and oxidizing of gases in the atmosphere. In addition, meteorological forces play a strong role in the dynamics of particulate movement, composition, and visibility impacts.

Background on Regional Haze
EPA promulgated the regional haze rule on July 1, 1999. EPA’s rule requires states to “establish goals (expressed in deciviews) that provide for reasonable progress towards achieving natural visibility conditions” for each Class I area within a state by 2064. The reasonable progress goals must provide for an improvement in visibility for the most impaired days over the period of the implementation plan and ensure no degradation in visibility for the least impaired days over the same period. South Dakota has two Class I areas within its borders; Badlands National Park and Wind Cave National Park.