Lawmakers seek AG investigation into Summit Carbon Solutions ownership and investors
The group signed a letter that references their concerns that some of the investment in the project comes from foreign countries, including China.
A group of North Dakota lawmakers is asking that the Attorney General's Office launch an investigation into the ownership and investors of Summit Carbon Solutions, which is planning to build a regional carbon dioxide pipeline that some landowners oppose.
The letter spearheaded by Sen. Jeff Magrum , R-Hazelton, was signed by 31 legislators including one Democrat and was turned into the Attorney General’s Office on Tuesday. The letter references the concerns of lawmakers and some landowners that some of the investment in the project comes from foreign countries, including China.
Summit maintains the lawmakers are "making unfounded accusations" after unsuccessfully targeting the company during the recently concluded legislative session.
Wrigley indicated his office will look into the matter.
Summit's proposed Midwest Carbon Express pipeline would transport 12 million metric tons of climate-warming CO2 emissions from 32 ethanol plants in five states to an underground site in western North Dakota's Oliver County for permanent storage underground. The three-member Public Service Commission in recent months has been holding public hearings across North Dakota on the proposed 320-mile pipeline route in the state. A final PSC meeting is to be held on June 2 in Bismarck.
Several county governments including Burleigh's have passed ordinances to regulate the pipeline within their borders. The city of Bismarck and Bismarck Public Schools recently passed resolutions opposing the pipeline. Some area officials and landowners feel the proposed pipeline route will inhibit Bismarck's northward development, and that it presents safety concerns. Summit touts the overall safety record of the thousands of miles of CO2 pipelines that have operated in the U.S. for decades, including one in western North Dakota.
The lawmakers' letter says that the proposed pipeline violates Senate Bill 2371 and House Bill 1135 — which were passed earlier this year and go into effect Aug. 1.
Senate Bill 2371 prohibits foreign adversaries of the United States and foreign business entities with principal executive offices located in a country that is identified as a foreign adversary from owning and developing property in North Dakota.
House Bill 1135 prohibits people who are not a U.S. citizen, U.S. permanent resident or Canadian citizen from directly or indirectly acquiring agricultural land in North Dakota. The bill also states that limited liability companies can’t directly or indirectly acquire or otherwise obtain any interest in any title to agricultural land unless the ultimate beneficial interest of the entity is held directly or indirectly by citizens of the United States or permanent resident aliens of the U.S.
Summit — a limited liability company registered in the United States -- provided the PSC a short list of five investors which included TPG Rise and SK Group.
The Silk Road Fund — an investment fund backed by the Chinese government — is an investor in TPG Rise. The SK Group is a South Korean company.
Magrum believes that Summit is in violation of HB 1135 because at least some of its investors are outside of the U.S.
South Korea is one of the United States’ most important strategic and economic partners in Asia, according to the Congressional Research Service. The U.S. State Department says the U.S. and South Korea relationship is "a deep, comprehensive global partnership."
TPG Rise Climate is an American private equity firm based in Fort Worth, Texas, that specializes in climate-related investments. The Silk Road Fund was just one of many businesses that raised $5.4 billion for the fund, according to a statement from TPG in 2021.
Magrum said, “We don’t want foreign adversaries owning real property, the pipeline is real property, and we don't want foreign adversaries and other countries owning ag land."
Summit is working to secure easements from landowners so it can place the pipeline on their land. The company earlier this month said it had partnered with more than 2,750 landowners to sign 4,450 voluntary easement agreements accounting for 1,390 miles of the proposed 2,000-mile pipeline route -- what it called an "overwhelming level of support." But some reluctant landowners still worry the company will resort to eminent domain — the seizure of private property use, with compensation.
Magrum proposed 26 bills during the 2023 Legislature — the most of any lawmaker. Many of them dealt with CO2 pipelines and eminent domain, but most of them failed.
Summit spokesman Jesse Harris told the Tribune that “every single one of Sen. Magrum’s proposals related to carbon capture projects was rejected and he is now resorting to making unfounded accusations.”
Harris also said that Summit is "proud to have the support of both TPG Rise Climate and SK Group." He did not provide a list of other investors to the Tribune.
Summit maintains that it will continue to meet or exceed all federal, state and local regulatory requirements, including financial requirements.
Wrigley told the Tribune that Magrum had called him on Monday to inform him of the coming request.
“Today, he and 30 other legislators have raised concerns surrounding what they argue is nondisclosure of foreign investors in a proposed CO2 pipeline," Wrigley said Tuesday. "I have assured Sen. Magrum — as I assure the general public — that we will evaluate any applicable mandates in the new legislation which takes effect later this summer.”
(Reporter Jack Dura contributed to this story.)
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