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South Dakota commission staff files motion to deny Summit’s pipeline permit

South Dakota commission staff files motion to deny Summit’s pipeline permit
Summit Carbon Solutions proposed CO2 pipeline route, including proposed additional lateral line from the Floyd County pipeline near Rockford, north to the Absolute Energy ethanol plant in Mitchell County.
By Joshua Haiar, Iowa Capital Dispatch

The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission’s staff has filed a motion to deny Summit Carbon Solution’s application to construct a carbon dioxide pipeline, citing non-compliance with ordinances in Brown, McPherson, Minnehaha and Spink counties.

The news comes after Summit withdrew its request to have the commission overrule county ordinances. Another company trying to build a carbon pipeline – Navigator CO2 – failed earlier this week to convince the commission to preempt county ordinances that impose minimum distances between pipelines, homes and other places. The commission also denied Navigator’s permit application.

The PUC staff argues in its new motion that if the county ordinances are allowed to stay in effect, Summit’s proposed route would inherently violate county setback requirements. In other words, Summit would be asking the commission to approve a project that is not in compliance with county laws.

According to the motion signed by Staff Attorney Kristen Edwards, despite Summit’s claims that it would comply with local regulations, evidence has yet to be presented that it has secured necessary waivers or county permits. Given the noncompliance and the application’s potential legal complications, the commission’s staff recommends the application be denied while allowing Summit to reapply in the future.

The motion will be heard by the three elected public utilities commissioners on Monday at the Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center in Fort Pierre, at the beginning of what is intended to be a three-week hearing on Summit’s application.

Meanwhile, Summit is in the midst of a weeks-long hearing on its planned route in Iowa, and has had its route rejected in North Dakota.

Chase Jensen of Dakota Rural Action, which has been working with opponent landowners, is applauding the motion in South Dakota.

“To proceed with three weeks of hearings would only serve to waste even more time, money and energy that our elected officials and citizens have already had to sacrifice,” Jensen said.

Ed Fischbach is a landowner from northern Spink County with land that would be crossed by the Summit project.

“We have felt for a long time that it’s time for both Navigator and Summit to move on, pull the plug and leave us alone,” he said Friday.

Summit wants to capture carbon dioxide emitted from ethanol plants in five states. The gas would be pressurized into a liquid form and transmitted via pipelines to North Dakota for storage underground, to prevent the gas from trapping heat in the atmosphere. For its value in helping to fight climate change, the $5.5 billion project would be eligible for up to $1.5 billion in annual federal tax credits.

Summit has not yet commented in response to South Dakota Searchlight’s questions about the PUC staff motion. The company has an opportunity to file a response arguing against the motion.


— Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kathie Obradovich for questions: Follow Iowa Capital Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter.

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