For North Dakotans wanting to be on the record about Summit Carbon pipeline, prepare to attend a hearing
Iowa-based Summit Carbon Solutions says its $4.5 billion pipeline project will help ethanol plants. The project aims to capture greenhouse gas emissions and pipe the CO2 to western North Dakota for underground storage.
BISMARCK, N.D. — If you want your thoughts on the massive carbon capture pipeline to be part of the official record in North Dakota, plan to travel to a public hearing.
Summit Carbon Solutions filed for a permit with the North Dakota Public Service Commission on Oct. 17 for the last leg of the five-state, $4.5 billion project. The pipeline will capture greenhouse gas emissions from ethanol plants and pump liquid carbon dioxide to western North Dakota, where it will be stored underground.
The next step in the permit process is for the PSC to review the application and deem it complete or ask Summit for more information.
Once complete, the PSC will set up a series of public hearings on the project, which runs through 11 North Dakota counties — Cass, Richland, Sargent, Dickey, McIntosh, Logan, Emmons, Burleigh, Oliver, Morton and Mercer. Cass County is home to the only North Dakota ethanol plant that has so far signed on to the project — Tharaldson Ethanol at Casselton.
The hearings will be the only way for public comments to be entered into the “evidentiary record,” according to John "Jack" Schuh, general counsel to the PSC.
“The purpose of that is so that the commissioners can ask questions to that,” Schuh said. By being able to ask questions of comments, commissioners can better assess how people may be affected by the project.
Comments also can be submitted to the PSC, but are not part of the evidentiary record.
In other states where Summit has filed for a permit, Iowa, South Dakota and a portion of the Minnesota route, comments can be submitted online or by mail and are posted online for the public to view.
The application is available to view on the PSC website, Project PU-22-391, but has not yet been deemed complete by PSC staff.
When the application is deemed complete, the PSC also will notify other state agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, Department of Environmental Quality and the North Dakota Industrial Commission, which includes Gov. Doug Burgum, Agriculture Secretary Doug Goehring and Attorney General Drew Wrigley. Those agencies can provide input to the PSC.
When siting a pipeline, the three-person PSC considers both a corridor and a route. The corridor is considered the general location of the pipeline while the route is more specific within that corridor.
PSC rules say a decision on a permit should be made within six months of it being deemed complete but the commission can extend that period.
There are other agencies, state and federal, that will require Summit to obtain a permit, such as the Division of Water Quality and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for river crossings.
Summit also will need to file a separate permit application to the Industrial Commission, which has jurisdiction to the pore space, or underground storage area for the liquid carbon dioxide.
A key issue in the pipeline project is eminent domain, where private property can be taken if it is deemed to be for a public use.
Opponents of the pipeline have said the carbon capture is not a public use. But in other pipeline projects, such as the Dakota Access oil pipeline, the pipeline was determined to be a “common carrier,” and the court system granted the right of eminent domain.
Summit says the ethanol plants will be able to sell their corn-based fuel at a premium in markets that have adopted low carbon fuel standards, such as California and Canada.
Opponents cite potential problems such as damage to farmland, negative effects on property vales, and safety hazards.