Reactions to SD PUC denying the CO2 pipeline request by Summit Carbon Solutions

SOUTH DAKOTA(HubCityRadio)- On Monday in Fort Pierre, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission denied Summit Carbon Solution’s request for CO2 pipeline construction across eastern South Dakota.

Reactions are pouring in starting with a statement from Summit:

“Today, the pipeline permit application for Summit Carbon Solutions (SCS) was denied by the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC). SCS respects the decision, plans to refile, and is reinforcing its commitment to South Dakotans and the state’s ethanol and sustainable-aviation-fuel industries.

Two-and-a-half years ago, SCS announced the creation of this carbon-capture and storage project, and a year later, in February 2022, SCS filed an application with the South Dakota PUC. In the 19 months that followed, SCS has engaged with landowners and local governments throughout the path of the project. That commitment has been borne out through the 73% of landowners who have signed voluntary easements and the nine biorefineries that have partnered with SCS, including Gevo, the first billion-dollar economic investment in South Dakota.

Some South Dakota counties passed ordinances that require SCS to refine its path through South Dakota. Today, the PUC determined that these ordinances prohibit the PUC from granting a permit right now, but that SCS can reapply after it refines its proposal.

SCS intends to do just that, to refine its proposal and reapply for a permit in a timely manner. SCS remains committed to the South Dakota ethanol industry and the growth of South Dakota’s energy industry.

“We respect this initial ruling and remain committed to South Dakota and deeply appreciative of the overwhelming support we have received from landowners and community members,” said Lee Blank, Summit Carbon Solutions CEO. “We are hopeful that through collaborative engagement with these counties we can forge a path forward to benefit South Dakota and its citizens.”

South Dakota Farmers Union President Doug Sombke released the following statement:

“We fully endorse the recent decisions made by the Public Utilities Commission to deny Summit Carbon Solutions’ permit application due to non-compliance with regulations. This ruling reinforces the crucial role of maintaining local control and regulations that safeguard our communities. However, it’s important to note that this denial marks the beginning of a new phase rather than the end. Summit Solutions now has the opportunity to revise and resubmit and we must stay vigilant.

Summit Carbon Solutions’ tactics are to strong-arm their way through the permitting process. Their strategy included intimidating counties with the threat of lawsuits if they enacted ordinances, and requesting the PUC to preempt these ordinances, all without demonstrating any genuine effort to comply with them. We stand behind the PUC’s decision, it serves as a continuous reminder that protecting landowners’ rights requires ongoing dedication. As it is, South Dakota’s communities have limited control over the project’s planning. We urge the public to stay actively involved and committed in the pursuit of a just and equitable system that upholds both property rights and environmental standards.”

South Dakota Freedom Caucus released this statement:

“Today is a big day for the people of South Dakota,” said Chairman of the South Dakota Freedom Caucus Representative Aaron Aylward, “The PUC’s decision to deny these applications is a victory for every landowner who has been threatened by the unconstitutional use of eminent domain. Many South Dakotans have been fighting for this, and it’s gratifying to see justice served.”

The South Dakota Freedom Caucus has been at the forefront of this battle, actively opposing the use of eminent domain by private companies. On Friday, September 8th, the Caucus sent out nearly 10,000 robocalls to 18 legislative districts. The robocalls encouraged constituents to call their Representative or Senator to demand a special legislative session aimed at addressing the use of eminent domain by private entities and other related private property rights issues.

Vice-Chair Representative Tony Randolph added, “This decision reaffirms what we’ve been saying all along: private companies should not have the power to seize South Dakotan land for their own gain. We will continue to stand with our constituents and fight for their rights.”

In addition to the robocalls, the Caucus directed faxes, emails, and other communications to the Governor, the Public Utilities Commission, and fellow legislators, urging them to take action on this critical issue over the last several months.

“The PUC’s decision sends a strong message that the voices of South Dakotans won’t be ignored,” Freedom Caucus Treasurer Representative Tina Mulally said emphasizing the broader implications of the PUC decision, “We will not allow out-of-state corporations to trample on our rights and our land.”

While the South Dakota Freedom Caucus is celebrating today’s victory, they say the fight is far from over. The Caucus remains committed to advocating for a special legislative session or bringing legislation this next session that protects citizen’s constitutional property rights, and to prohibit the types of violations the Freedom Caucus alleges were imposed by the carbon pipeline companies during this process from happening again.”

Summit’s carbon storage project would’ve connected 32 ethanol biorefineries across five states in the upper Midwest. One of those was Ringneck Energy at Onida.

President, CEO and Chair of the Board Walt Wendland is disappointed with the decision.(Audio from DRGNews)

Wendland says low carbon fuel is becoming a requirement in some parts of the country– and world.

Wendland says allowing the carbon emitted by the plant to be captured will make an efficient plant even more environmentally friendl