Summit Carbon pushes back against PUC staff motion to deny company permit

PIERRE, S.D.(Argus Leader)- Summit Carbon Solutions, a carbon capture company applying for a permit to build part of a $5.5 billion pipeline in South Dakota, has filed an official response to a state regulatory attorney’s motion to deny their application.

Summit Carbon responded late Friday after South Dakota Public Utilities Commission staff attorney Kristen Edwards requested an order from commissioners to nix the company’s permit hearing earlier that day. The PUC staff motion was made after the Nebraska-based company’s requested on Thursday to withdraw a motion to preempt local county ordinances.

Brett Koenecke, Summit Carbon’s attorney, asked the commission to deny staff’s motion in the company’s response letter and have the hearings proceed as scheduled.

Summit Carbon aimed to argue local county setback ordinances, which the company considers overly restrictive, are preempted by federal regulations. Some of these local ordinances were made in response to the company’s pipeline route, which some landowners view as a hazard to their safety and well-being.

As a consequence of withdrawing their preemption motion, however, PUC staff requested an order from the commission to deny Summit Carbon’s permit on the grounds the company now admits its current pipeline route would not comply with setback distances in Brown, McPherson, Minnehaha and Spink counties based on South Dakota statute.

Also Friday evening, Brian Jorde, an attorney with Nebraska-based Domina Law Group, submitted on the behalf of intervening landowners a joinder supporting PUC staff’s motion to deny Summit Carbon’s permit for similar reasons.

“Landowners do have evidence on hand of Summit’s use of the legal process to circumvent good faith negotiations with Landowners,” Jorde wrote. “Landowners request the PUC take judicial notice of the over 107 condemnation lawsuits against landowners that Summit filed months before now.”

In their response, Summit Carbon said it continues to believe these county ordinances have the “intended or unintended effect of hampering [carbon sequestration] projects.”

“Despite that continued belief, SCS heard this Commission loud and clear on Wednesday, September 6 when it ruled unanimously that it will not preempt local county ordinances for CO2 pipelines,” Koenecke wrote. “For that reason, SCS has withdrawn its motion for preemption.”