Summit lawsuits take issue with pipeline moratorium in Brown Co., fee increases in Edmunds

ABERDEEN, S.D.(Aberdeen American News)- Both Brown and Edmunds counties are facing federal lawsuits filed by Summit Carbon Solutions and an ethanol plant investor.

The case involving Brown County takes issue with a one-year moratorium on permits for hazardous waste pipelines that was approved earlier this year by county commissioners. In Edmunds County, the suit objects to considerable permit fee increases related to the construction of hazardous pipelines.

The freshly filed federal lawsuits claim both counties violated federal law, but for distinctly separate actions. Filing the lawsuits are Ron Alverson, an investor in multiple ethanol plants and founding member of Dakota Ethanol in Lake County, and SCS Carbon Transport, which has filed a permit with the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission to build a 1,900-mile a carbon capture and sequestration pipeline from Iowa to North Dakota. The Summit pipeline would run through Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. The goal is to capture the carbon dioxide produced from more than 30 facilities and sequester it underground in western North Dakota.

The carbon dioxide would be gathered from both ethanol and fertilizer plants along the route. According to both lawsuits, the pipeline is intended to capture the carbon dioxide emitted during the ethanol production process or, in some cases, the production of fertilizer. The end result would be that ethanol plants could be carbon neutral by 2030 and could better compete in areas that now have low carbon fuel standards.

The Brown County Commission passed a one-year moratorium on the construction of hazardous material pipelines on July 19. The aim is to give the county’s Planning and Zoning Department an opportunity to review its zoning regulations.

Edmunds County commissioners passed a resolution on April 12 stating the board’s opposition to the Summit pipeline. Right after that, the county also increased three fees related to hazardous utilities in the county highway right of way.

According to the lawsuits, both actions violate federal regulations, specifically the Pipeline Safety Act, which calls for the U.S. Department of Transportation to establish safety standards for pipeline transportation and pipeline facilities. Because federal law regulates pipelines and safety standards, the local actions conflict with federal regulations and become an obstacle, per the Brown County lawsuit.

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