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South Dakota utilities commissioners won't dismiss application for CO2 pipeline

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Kim Jarrett | The Center Square

(The Center Square) - The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission rejected a motion that would have dismissed an application for a proposed CO2 pipeline scheduled to run through the state. 

Summit Carbon Solutions wants to construct and operate the pipeline to transport carbon from more than 30 ethanol plants to underground injection control facilities in North Dakota. The 2,000-mile pipeline dubbed the "Midwest Carbon Express" would also run through Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska. About 469 miles would traverse South Dakota. 

SCS asked for more time to work on its application, which it initially filed in February. 

"We have a number of differences in laws between the states as to scheduling of permitting and other matters," said Brett Koenecke, an attorney representing the pipeline company. "Scheduling steps have been taken in other states which allowed us the luxury to extend the deadline and give the project time, the commission time, the interveners more time in which to go about the work of concluding this docket." 

The PUC agreed to grant SCS an indefinite amount of time to finish its application.

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The PUC denied a motion to dismiss the application. SCS did not notify the PUC about proposed changes to the route which is "failure to apply with a blackletter rule of immediately updating as to the changes of material facts," said Brian Jorde, an attorney representing landowners opposing the pipeline. 

"I will agree with Mr. Jorde that the application package is certainly not as complete as what I would like it to be," said PUC Chairman Chris Nelson. "I also don't think we are at a fatal juncture where we need to dismiss at this point, particularly given the motion that we approved earlier today where we extended the deadline indefinitely which will allow the commission to respond to the circumstances of the completed application package whenever we get that."

The company said in March it plans are to seek easements in 2022, and construction would begin in the first quarter of 2023. The projected completion date is 2024. 

The investment during the construction phase would be $3.7 billion, and 11,427 jobs would be created, according to a study conducted by Ernst & Young for Summit. The company would invest $170 million during the operations phase and employ 1,170 people. The company would pay an estimated $97 million in federal, state and local taxes, according to the report. 

Hundreds of landowners and some local utilities in the path of the pipeline have filed opposition to the project with the PUC.