CO2 Pipelines slow down: Navigator pipeline postpones South Dakota progress, SD PUC denies Summit pipeline a permit

One of the two carbon pipelines proposed to traverse South Dakota and several other midwestern states has officially “paused” operations in South Dakota for now.

The Argus Leader reported on Sept. 14, that the Navigator Pipeline, named “Heartland Greenway” commented that it is postponing some of its “right of way work in certain areas, like South Dakota and some parts of Iowa.”

The three-member South Dakota Public Utilities Commission denied the company a permit on Sept. 6, 2023.

Heartland Greenway Pipeline Route. Navigator | Courtesy image

“A few of the land agent contract teams working on behalf of the [Heartland Greenway] project” have been released as a result, the statement continues. Navigator said remaining land teams will continue to work and engage landowners on other parts of the five-state project, said the Argus Leader.

“Navigator remains committed to project development in a collaborative fashion, and is continuing to work towards that goal,” the company’s statement reads, according to the Argus Leader.

On Monday, Sept. 12, 2023, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission denied a permit for the Midwest Carbon Express’s Summit Carbon Solutions CO2 pipeline, which encompasses more of the state than the Heartland Greenway line. The North Dakota Public Service Commission denied a permit for the Summit pipeline in early August.

Summit says it has obtained easements for 73 percent of the project’s South Dakota portion of the pipeline.

Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline route. Courtesy image

“Summit Carbon Solutions remains incredibly encouraged by the response we have received from farmers and other landowners across the Midwest. Currently, Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with thousands of landowners to secured voluntary easements accounting for 73 percent of the route project wide. This overwhelming level of support is a clear reflection that landowners view the project as safe and critical to supporting the region’s most important industries – agriculture, ethanol, and energy. We look forward to continuing to work with stakeholders at the federal, state, and local levels to advance this critical investment in the future,” said a Summit spokesman.

Summit also said, in an official statement that it plans to reapply for a permit.

“Some South Dakota counties passed ordinances that require SCS to refine its path through South Dakota. Today, (Sept. 11)  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,” said Summit.

Summit had conducted many surveys on property across eastern South Dakota without permission by the landowner, under a court ruling that allowed them to survey since they had filed for a permit and had not yet been denied.

Brian Jorde, of Domina Law, based in Omaha, Nebraska, who represents landowners from South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa who have resisted signing easements with Summit, said he believes Summit is now unable to survey without permission because of the permit denial.

In Monday’s South Dakota PUC hearing, the Summit spokesman said his company has filed between 150-160 condemnation lawsuits.

A third company, Wolf Carbon Solutions, is proposing a much shorter pipeline beginning at Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and depositing the CO2 around Decatur, Illinois.

Jared Bossley a Brown County, South Dakota, farmer and rancher, did not give Summit permission to enter his property but under their court order, they conducted a survey which included boring 90 feet underground and leaving slurry in the road ditch.

Bossley is hoping more counties across the state enact moratoriums on carbon pipelines.

He is also hoping some of the ethanol plants that have entered agreements with the carbon pipelines will now have the chance to cancel their contacts. Bossley is a small investor in Glacial Lakes Energy, LLC, a local ethanol plant that is signed on with Summit.

Doyle Turner, an Iowa farmer and cattle feeder who is not an ethanol plant investor, said he believes the CO2 is actually a valuable product and should be used to make methanol, an alternative fuel.

He favors keeping the CO2 in the state it that produces it and producing methanol which can be sold for fuel.

“One of my big beefs is to get our state to stop selling natural resources but to add value to anything we produce. I know this product has value, I don’t want to send CO2 out of the state without being paid,” he said.

“It’s just a matter of who is going to get the ecnomic benefit – I want it to be Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska. I don’t want it to be billionaires and China, South Korea, Saudia Arabia.”

“When the Inflation Reduction Act set the subsidy level at $85/ton, that’s what inspired these pipelines. The previous subsidy level was $50/ton. I can’t reverse the Inflation Reduction Act, but at least we can do something where we get something for our money rather than bury a commodity in the ground. That’s horrible,” he said.

Carbon sequestration pipelines are funded by private investors and will also be financed with tax incentives.

Under the Inflation Reduction Act, the government will pay qualified facilities $85 per metric ton of CO2 stored or $60 per ton of CO2 used for enhanced oil recovery or other use. Plants built to capture CO2 from the air can get $180 per metric ton. Projects have until January 2033 to begin construction.

The goal of the carbon pipelines is to trap carbon dioxide being emitted from ethanol plants across the region and pipe the carbon dioxide to depository locations underground. The process will supposedly lower the carbon footprint of midwestern ethanol plants, giving them the ability to sell ethanol into western markets such as California