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Summit Carbon Solutions files for pipeline permit in North Dakota

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.

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Summit Carbon Solutions, which plans to capture greenhouse gas emissions from ethanol plants and pipe liquid carbon dioxide to western North Dakota for underground storage, has filed for a pipeline permit in North Dakota.

The massive five-state project has the backing of North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and investors such as oil development company Continental Resources, but it also has inspired some landowners, county governments and environmental groups to band together in opposition to the pipeline and Summit's potential use of eminent domain to obtain right-of-way for the hazardous materials pipeline.

Summit announced its application with the North Dakota Public Service Commission on Monday, Oct. 17, setting in motion the process for finalizing the route and taking public comment. Summit Carbon also will need a permit from the North Dakota Industrial Commission for the underground storage in Mercer and Oliver counties.

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Tharaldson Ethanol in Casselton, North Dakota, plant produces about 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide per day, according to company officials.
Jaryn Homiston / Agweek

There are 32 ethanol plants signed on to the project but only one in North Dakota — Tharaldson Ethanol at Casselton.

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.

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Lee Blank, CEO of Summit Carbon Solutions
Courtesy of Summit Carbon Solutions

“Since we announced our project last year, Summit Carbon Solutions has been committed to working in partnership with landowners, stakeholders, and communities to drive growth in North Dakota’s two most important industries — agriculture and energy,” Summit Carbon Solutions CEO Lee Blank said in a news release. “Securing partnerships with more than 500 North Dakota landowners reflects that commitment and the growing support for making investments today that will support economic growth long-term. Building on that momentum, we are pleased to submit our initial application to the North Dakota Public Service Commission and look forward to continuing to advance our project in the state.”

Summit says it would invest nearly $900 million in North Dakota as part of what it has called a $4.5 billion project that is essential to the future of ethanol.

Other states on the route are Iowa, where Summit is based, as well as Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota. Summit already has filed for permits in Iowa and South Dakota and for part of its Minnesota route.

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The pipeline would run through Cass, Richland, Sargent, Dickey, McIntosh, Logan, Emmons, Burleigh, Oliver, Morton and Mercer counties in North Dakota.

Some of the those counties have passed resolutions against the use of eminent domain . Emmons County went a step further, with a requirement of 100% voluntary easements and a huge fee for a conditional use permit .

Summit has been touting its progress in getting landowners to sign voluntary easements for the path of the pipeline — more than 500 North Dakota landowners, totaling 160 miles. That's about half of the 339 mile route in the state.

But Summit also is involved in lawsuits and countersuits with landowners who refuse to even allow access to survey crews from Summit.

The Dakota Resource Council, a North Dakota-based environmental stewardship group, has made landowner rights and the carbon storage project the focus of its upcoming annual meeting Oct. 29 in Bismarck. Among those on the schedule are prominent North Dakota attorney Derrick Braaten.

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More carbon capture coverage
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.
Iowa-based Summit Carbon Solutions says its $4.5 billion pipeline project will help ethanol plants. The five-state project aims to capture greenhouse gas emissions and pipe the CO2 to western North Dakota for underground storage.
Iowa-based Summit Carbon Solutions says its $4.5 billion pipeline project will help ethanol plants, including the Green Plains Ethanol plant at Fergus Falls, Minnesota, lower their carbon scores. The project aims to capture greenhouse gas emissions and pipe the CO2 to western North Dakota for underground storage.

Opponents cite potential problems such as damage to farmland, negative effects on property vales and safety hazards. A carbon dioxide pipeline rupture in Mississippi in 2020 that hospitalized 45 people is often cited as evidence of the dangers.

Summit Carbon Solutions, a spin-off of Iowa-based, Summit Agricultural Group, says it has the future of agriculture and the environment in its interest by lowering the carbon score of ethanol plants which could then pay farmers more for corn. It also says the project will help the economy in counties along the route.

If built, Summit would get a huge amount of revenue from federal tax credits — $85 per ton of greenhouse gasses stored. Summit says the project will have the capacity to capture and store up to 12 million tons of liquid carbon dioxide every year, pumping it underground northwest of Bismarck.

Bruce Rastetter and Doug Burgum on a stage in front of an American flag
Bruce Rastetter, left, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum were at the Tharaldson Ethanol plant in Casselton, North Dakota, on March 2, 2022, to announce an investment from Continental Resources into the Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline project. Rastetter is the head of Iowa-based Summit Agricultural Group, with Summit Carbon Solutions a spinoff of that company.
Evan Girtz / Agweek

Earlier this year, Burgum joined Summit officials in Casselton to announce the involvement of Continental Resources in the project. The Republican governor is pushing for carbon storage as a way for North Dakota to become carbon neutral by 2030. But he also has said publicly that the pipeline should be accomplished only with voluntary easements, not the legal force of eminent domain.

Last month, North Dakota state Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, said he plans to promote legislation that would prevent eminent domain from being used to gain right-of-way for carbon dioxide pipelines in North Dakota. Becker, who is an independent candidate for U.S. Senate, made the announcement along with state Rep. Jeff Magrum, R-Hazelton, who is a candidate for state Senate.

Summit also recently filed for a section of pipeline in Otter Tail and Wilkin counties in Minnesota .

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The proposed route of the Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline through Otter Tail and Wilkin counties in Minnesota. The liquid carbon dioxide would flow west into North Dakota.
Summit Carbon Solutions
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The Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline would connect six ethanol plants in Minnesota to a carbon storage site in North Dakota.
Summit Carbon Solutions

In addition to the branch in Otter Tail and Wilkin counties, another section of the Summit pipeline would run through Chippewa, Cottonwood, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Martin, Redwood, Renville and Yellow Medicine counties in Minnesota.

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