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Victory for South Dakota Landowners Over Carbon Pipelines

Sep 14, 2023 | Farmers and Ranchers, Inflation Reduction Act, Issues | 0 comments

In separate rulings, South Dakota landowners celebrated two victories when the state’s Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to deny both Navigator CO2 Ventures and SCS Carbon Solutions’ applications to build hundreds of miles of carbon capture pipelines through the state.

Navigator’s application was denied first with the PUC stating multiple reasons for the denial, including slowness in notifying landowners of routes and meetings, detailed concerns for safety, community growth, landowners and emergency responders, and lack of cooperation with commission staff.

For the SCS (Summit) Carbon Sequestration application, the PUC stated “It is an undisputable fact that the proposed route currently violates county ordinances in Brown, McPherson, Minnehaha, and Spink counties.  Unless and until Summit can obtain waivers or conditional use permits where applicable in order to bring the route into compliance, a permit cannot be granted.”

This ruling was in response to a motion filed by SCS with the PUC to obtain an order preempting or superseding the county ordinances.  The Legislature gave the PUC that ability, but SCS’s motion was denied.

After the routes were published, the four counties along SCS pipeline adopted local ordinances that created “setback” requirements that essentially banned pipeline routes in their counties.  McPherson County enacted a temporary moratorium on pipelines in their county while they decide how and whether to regulate hazardous liquid pipelines.  They passed it as a “temporary” moratorium, but they continue to extend the ban making it, in essence, permanent.

For months, landowners have been battling the two heavily subsidized carbon sequestration pipeline companies attempting to stop what their Governor forced upon them when she signed a bill giving the private pipeline companies the power to take private property prior to the PUC permit approval.  They’ve held rallies, collected thousands of signatures, and asked for a Special Session to address this issue, but Governor Noem has turned a deaf ear to their demands.

Carbon sequestration is one of the Biden administration’s major excuses to fight a non-existent climate change “crisis.”  Funded through the Inflation Reduction Act (named by Biden’s handlers to sell his massive spending bill to the public and Congress), carbon capture companies fall under the $369B “climate and energy” spending that gives federal tax credits and subsidies for carbon capture, placing it under tremendous pressure, pumping it through underground pipelines, and sequestering (store) it in geologic formations below the Earth’s surface forever.  What could go wrong?

However, the South Dakota regulators have provided a major reprieve for hundreds of landowners, 80 or more of which have already been served with eminent domain lawsuits to take their land.

Unfortunately for those 80 families, their land has been trespassed upon without permission, their crops have been trampled and destroyed, all without the pipeline companies having a permit from the PUC.

Summit CEO Lee Blank said his company hasn’t given up and “through collaborative engagement with these counties we can forge a path forward to benefit South Dakota and its citizens.”

Summit’s project runs through Iowa, Nebraska, South and North Dakota, and Minnesota.  North Dakota regulators denied Summit a siting permit in August 2023, with SCS requesting a reconsideration.  No decision has been made on the request.

Minnesota regulators are going through an environmental review process for a 28-mile segment that will connect an ethanol plant in Fergus Falls to the North Dakota line.

For now, landowners will take this victory knowing both Summit SCS and Navigator have way too much at stake to give up.  This fight isn’t over by any means, but the individual landowners and the local governments have proven they have the power to stand, fight and win.

To help the landowners on the front line of this battle, go to: https://sdpropertyrights.com/

You can read the Summit Carbon’s Motion before the PUC to preempt county ordinances at this link: https://puc.sd.gov/commission/dockets/HydrocarbonPipeline/2022/HP22-001/motion082123.pdf

The detailed Summit map for each state can be viewed here: https://summitcarbonsolutions.com/project-footprint/