South Dakota Rejects CO2 Pipeline Permit; North Dakota Project Seeks Reconsideration

(P&GJ) — In a recent development, South Dakota regulators have denied a construction permit for a carbon dioxide pipeline project, the Associated Press (AP) reported. This decision closely follows a similar rejection by a North Dakota panel regarding another company's project.

Navigator CO2 Ventures had proposed constructing a 1,300-mile pipeline network spanning Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota. This network aimed to transport carbon dioxide emissions from over 20 industrial plants to be buried more than a mile underground in Illinois, mitigating their impact on climate change.

The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to reject Navigator's application for its Heartland Greenway pipeline. Chair Kristie Fiegen cited multiple reasons for the denial, including the company's delays, objections to commission staff inquiries, and difficulties in informing landowners about routes and meetings. Concerns were raised regarding safety, community growth, landowner interests, and emergency response readiness, among other issues.

The proposed South Dakota route was intended to cover 112 miles and serve three ethanol plants. The decision followed evidentiary hearings held in July and August. Navigator expressed disappointment over the permit denial and is currently evaluating its future options. The company emphasized its unwavering commitment to environmental stewardship and safety while hinting at pursuing permitting processes in other regions.

This decision comes shortly before the South Dakota panel is scheduled to commence an evidentiary hearing for a separate CO2 pipeline project proposed by Summit Carbon Solutions. The final decision on this project is expected by November 15. Brian Jorde, an attorney representing South Dakota landowners opposed to both Navigator and Summit projects, told AP that he hopes that Navigator might reconsider the South Dakota leg of its project, particularly since most of the plants it would serve are located in Iowa and other states.

Similar projects are being proposed across the United States as industries seek to reduce their carbon footprints. Proponents argue that carbon capture is crucial for combating climate change, with governments and companies making significant investments in the technology. However, opponents raise concerns about the unproven scalability of the technology and the potential diversion of resources from renewable energy sources like solar and wind power.

Pipeline projects have faced resistance from landowners in the Midwest who fear land seizures and the risk of pipeline ruptures releasing hazardous carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Meanwhile, other states are still evaluating Summit's project, which envisions a 2,000-mile network connecting over 30 ethanol plants across Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota to an underground storage site in North Dakota.

The Iowa Utilities Board initiated an evidentiary hearing for the Summit project last month, expected to last several weeks. In North Dakota, the Public Service Commission initially denied Summit a siting permit but is now considering a request for reconsideration, with a decision pending after a work session. Summit recently withdrew its permit applications to Oliver County for two construction-related injection wells at its underground CO2 storage site in central North Dakota. This decision came after the county's planning and zoning board recommended denial, citing concerns over information provided by Summit, safety, and a perceived lack of economic benefits for the county and its residents. Summit expressed confidence in addressing the county's questions and securing the necessary permits.

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