Pipeline fight ramps up in Pierre

Two Moody County residents, Clayton Rentschler and Dan Janssen, were among those at the state Capitol this past week as Landowners for Eminent Domain Reform (LEDR) held a legislative action day. Sen. Bryan Breitling took a personal privilege on 1/18 and introduced members of the group, pictured here in the balcony.

As plans for two carbon capture pipelines move forward across South Dakota, including one that would be constructed through Moody County, both the companies and their opponents are honing in on Pierre.
This past week, at least two Moody County residents were among those lobbying for reform when it comes to eminent domain. Clayton Rentschler and Dan Janssen spent this past Wednesday meeting with legislators and lobbying for clarification in the state’s current laws. The two are part of the group Landowners for Eminent Domain Reform (LEDR).
Why they feel that’s needed — the companies proposing the pipelines, Summit and Navigator C02 (Heartland Greenway), the latter of which is the line that would run locally, have stated that if landowners don’t agree to the pipeline route on their properties through sign agreements with the companies, they may move forward with construction regardless. And do so through the use of eminent domain.  
Typically, in South Dakota, eminent domain gives only the government the power to take your property. In fact, in 2006, legislation was passed in South Dakota in regard to eminent domain that was held up as an example by the Institute for Justice. At that time, IJ Senior Attorney Dana Berliner said, “Because lawmakers passed a broad restriction on the use of eminent domain for private development, and did so without any loopholes or exceptions, every home, business and ranch in the Mount Rushmore state should finally be safe from the government’s wrecking ball.”
Further reform is apparently needed, say pipeline opponents.
HB 1084 was introduced this past week to address the issue and simply add the words ‘for public use’ into existing eminent domain law language. The bill had not been scheduled for a hearing at the time this issue went to print but was assigned to the House State Affairs committee.
Meanwhile, as concerned citizens reach out to state lawmakers, so do at least a dozen lobbyists hired by Summit and one (at the time of print) by Navigator as their permit applications remain before the Public Utilities Commission. Navigator’s hearings before the PUC, which are open to the public, are scheduled for this June. Summit’s hearings, at this time, are scheduled for the fall.
For those unfamiliar with carbon capture and why there may be a fight over the pipelines, the companies claim their technology will decrease the carbon footprint of ethanol plants by permanently removing C02 from the atmosphere. The federal government recently passed billions in tax incentives to companies that might pursue building the infrastructure, through the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022. Section 45Q addresses the federal carbon capture tax credit for those wanting to learn more.
Others argue the technology is fraudulent at best and dangerous.
There is big money at stake no matter what happens.
Zoning laws are being revised locally to best protect the residents of Moody County and property owners across the region. More local governments are discussing the issue and looking at the potential impact should the pipeline be approved (see this week’s Flandreau City Council meeting). Public meetings also continue to be held to offer information and offer an opportunity to ask questions.
As the process moves forward, this is an issue the Moody County Enterprise will continue to cover.

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