State denies hazardous pipeline application
Company officials with Navigator Heartland Greenway, LLC, are reportedly weighing their options.
The sentiments follow a decision this past week by the State Public Utilities Commission to deny the company a permit to construct an underground carbon capture pipeline that would have crossed through Moody and four other South Dakota counties. Plans were for the pipelines to carry the carbon, in liquid form, from Valero ethanol in Aurora to an underground storage site in Illinois.
The PUC, after weeks of public hearings, also denied the company’s request to have zoning ordinances overturned in Minnehaha and Moody Counties that it felt were too strict to get the project done.
PUC Chair Kristie Fiegen cited the company’s lack of promptness and several objections to commission staff questions as well as struggles to notify landowners of routes and meetings as part of her decision to deny the permit. She also cited concerns related to safety, community growth, and for emergency responders, as part of her decision.
The ruling comes as the PUC prepares to begin evidentiary hearings in a separate CO2 pipeline request from Summit Carbon Solutions.
In an unexpected ruling Monday, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission voted to deny Summit Carbon Solution’s CO2 pipeline permit application. Following the Commission’s unanimous denial of Navigator’s CO2 pipeline permit last week, Summit withdrew their motion to preempt county ordinances. We’ll have more on this in a future Enterprise.
Other similar new projects are proposed around the country as industries, such as ethanol, try to reduce their carbon footprints. Supporters believe carbon capture will combat climate change and there is big money being invested in it.
Opponents argue the technology not only isn’t proven, it also isn’t safe, and could require huge investments at the expense of alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power.
North Dakota last month denied Summit a siting permit. The company has since asked that state’s PUC to reconsider. The Iowa Utilities Board began its evidentiary hearing for Summit last month.
“I am very glad the PUC didn’t overrule the Counties Ordinance and let us keep some local control,” Moody County Commissioner Jerry Doyle said, after the ruling.
“From the people I have heard from, they ruled in favor of the majority of the people along the pipeline. For the Pipeline Application, I think that Navigator will look at options and either re-apply for the permit or in some way take the issue to Court. We probably haven’t heard the last of this issue.”
County Zoning Administrator Kendra Eng, who took the stand during the hearings in recent weeks, said that her department and the other Commissioners have also been thanked for their diligence in passing a protective hazardous pipeline ordinance. The county’s new ordinance, approved earlier this summer, followed more than a year of research, hearings, community listening sessions and debate on the matter.
“As the zoning administrator, I believe our work group and county commissioners have done a great job in protecting the current land uses and future land uses in the unincorporated areas of Moody County and staying consistent with the Moody County Comprehensive Land Use Plan,” said Eng.
“In order to meet the concerns of our constituents, Moody County carefully crafted a set of performance standards that would need to be met if an entity desired to install and operate a hazardous liquid pipeline within the unincorporated areas of Moody County. Mindful of the oversight roles played by the federal government, and the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, the County proposed, discussed, voted, and passed an ordinance that is narrowly tailored in scope to those areas of law that county governments are empowered to control. To that end, we are pleased that the Public Utility Commissioners unanimously agreed that Moody County’s hazardous liquid pipeline ordinance is not unreasonably restrictive, and that they did not choose to preempt the County’s zoning ordinance.”
For more on the county’s new hazardous liquid pipeline ordinance log onto moodycounty.net and click on Commissioners. For more on the Navigator PUC hearings and the testimony of Moody County representatives Eng and State’s Attorney Paul Lewis, log onto puc.sd.gov.