Faced with Summit carbon pipeline, North Dakota county expands setback ordinance

Summit Carbons Solutions has described its carbon capture pipeline as benefitting ethanol plants and corn growers.

Summit Carbon Solution logo

LINTON, N.D. — A North Dakota county has voted to increase the limitations on where liquid carbon dioxide and other hazardous pipelines can go.

Emmons County, which is on the main trunk of the proposed Summit Carbon Solutions carbon capture pipeline, voted Feb. 7 to increase the setbacks to 2 miles from city limits of towns in the county, and 1 ½ miles from any established residence. It also approved a setback of 500 feet from other buildings.

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The county’s previous pipeline ordinance had only been a 200 foot setback, which was less than the state requirement of 500 feet.

During the meeting, Emmons County Commission Chairman Erin Magrum said the commission needed to have zoning changes completed at least 10 days before a May 9 North Dakota Public Service Commission hearing in Linton on the Summit pipeline.

The decision follows a public hearing on the pipeline rules.


“The people have spoken on it that, overwhelmingly, they want a greater setback, they want a safe distance from this pipeline, specifically,” Magrum said.

Emmons County had previously increased fees for conditional use permits that Summit will need to pay 3% of the total project cost, which could amount to $135 million for the $4.5 billion project, and set a requirement for 100% voluntary easements within the county.

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Summit Carbon Solutions has said that it has a goal of 100% voluntary easements. Some landowners are refusing to sign easements or even let Summit survey crews onto their property.

Without voluntary easements, Summit may need to resort to using eminent domain to take property for a right-of-way.

Summit on Feb. 9 announced that it has secured voluntary easements on 60% of the pipeline route, which covers about 2,000 miles in five states.

The Iowa-based company says it has partnered with 2,500 landowners who have signed 4,000 easement agreements, accounting for 1,250 miles of the route.

Summit says it has acquired easements on 201 miles in North Dakota, where there would be about 338 miles of pipeline.

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“Landowners across the Midwest are embracing Summit Carbon Solutions because they know it will bolster the ethanol industry long-term, drive growth in our ag economy, and strengthen land values and commodity prices,” Lee Blank, CEO of Summit Carbon Solutions, said in a news release.


The pipeline would end in western North Dakota, where liquid carbon dioxide would be stored underground. Summit would gather greenhouse gas emissions from 32 ethanol plants across Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota.

Summit also has signed an agreement with Gevo, which is building a plant to make sustainable aviation fuel at Lake Preston, South Dakota .

When Summit started talking with landowners in 2022 it had hoped to start construction in 2023, but Summit now says construction in North Dakota is targeted for March 2024.

But some landowners and local officials have voiced opposition to the pipeline with concerns about safety, lost property values and damage to cropland.

“I don’t want to stop development but this is a different monster than an oil pipeline,” Commissioner Dan Materi said.

Four hearings have been set for this spring on Summit's pipeline permit application with the North Dakota PSC.

Reach Jeff Beach at or call 701-451-5651 (work) or 859-420-1177.
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