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Navigator jumps ahead of Summit in South Dakota carbon capture

Navigator CO2 Ventures will have hearings in June before the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission; Summit Carbon Solutions hearings will be in September.

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PIERRE, S.D. — Navigator CO2 Ventures has moved ahead of Summit Carbon Solutions to build what could be South Dakota’s first carbon capture pipeline.

The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday, Jan. 17, approved setting dates in June to consider the permit application from Navigator for the South Dakota portion of a five-state pipeline to gather greenhouse gas emissions from ethanol plants.

Summit was the first to apply for a permit in South Dakota but asked for an extension to the one-year timeframe for approval spelled out in state law. That request opened the door for commissioners to push back hearings until September.

The Navigator docket is under a one-year deadline for a decision, starting from its application date on Sept. 27, 2022. PUC hearings would begin June 7 and go through June 16.

Navigator’s Heartland Greenway project includes the ethanol plants operated by Sioux Falls-based POET, which describes itself as the world’s largest bio-fuel company.

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The carbon capture system would include 18 of POET’s facilities in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. The project also includes ethanol plants in Minnesota and Illinois. The liquid carbon dioxide would be piped to Illinois.

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An attorney representing landowners, Brian Jorde of Domina Law, argued that the June dates would be unworkable and that more time was needed before the hearings.

Jorde also argued that Navigator’s application was in “default” for providing proper notice to some landowners, an argument that failed to sway commissioners.

Later in the meeting, Jorde asked commissioners to throw out Summit’s application for not complying with landowner notice requirements.

PUC staff said that some notifications were sent after a 30-day period spelled out in state law but still told commissioners that they felt Summit had complied with the law. Commissioners rejected Jorde’s motion to dismiss.

Summit's project would connect 32 ethanol plants in five states to a storage site in western North Dakota.

The two carbon capture projects aim to benefit ethanol plants and corn growers by allowing the plants to sell fuel in markets with a clean fuel standard, such as California. The projects also seek to cash in on tax credit for carbon capture.

The projects have proven unpopular with many landowners who don't want a hazardous materials pipeline crossing their property. Landowners have been organizing against the use of eminent domain that would force them to provide right-of-way to private pipeline companies.

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While the South Dakota PUC can approve a pipeline route and permit, the question of eminent domain ultimately falls to the courts.

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