Lincoln could become sixth county to regulate location of carbon pipelines

By: - November 28, 2023 4:39 pm
Lincoln County residents and members of the county's newly formed Carbon Dioxide Transport and Storage Advisory Committee attend a meeting Nov. 28, 2023, in Canton. (Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)

Lincoln County residents and members of the county’s newly formed Carbon Dioxide Transport and Storage Advisory Committee attend a meeting Nov. 28, 2023, in Canton. (Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)

CANTON — Lincoln County could become the sixth county in the state to enact regulations on the location of carbon dioxide pipelines. 

Brown, McPherson, Minnehaha, Moody and Spink counties already have “setback” ordinances that mandate minimum distances between pipelines and residential areas, livestock facilities, nursing homes and other existing features.

The Lincoln County Commission rejected a setback proposal earlier this year due to concerns about the county’s authority to enact such an ordinance. Since then, state regulators told county officials they do in fact have the authority, according to Eric Scott, who serves on the county’s new Carbon Dioxide Transport and Storage Advisory Committee, which is tasked with preparing an ordinance recommendation. 

In September, the state Public Utilities Commission denied permits for two companies seeking to build carbon pipelines in the state. Commissioners cited conflicts between the pipeline routes and county setback ordinances as a reason for the denials. Commissioners also declined to overrule the county setback ordinances.

One company, Navigator C02, has since withdrawn its plan. The other, Summit Carbon Solutions, plans to resubmit an application after modifying its route. The company aims to capture carbon dioxide emissions from ethanol plants and transport them in liquefied form for underground storage in North Dakota, thereby making the project eligible for federal tax credits that incentivize the removal of heat-trapping gasses from the atmosphere.

The Lincoln County pipeline committee held its second meeting Tuesday to discuss four proposals ranging from aggressive setback distances favored by pipeline opponents to lesser distances they oppose. 

County Commissioner Joel Arends suggested the committee should first hear from out-of-state carbon pipeline operators and regulators. He said that while the current proposals may be informed by other South Dakota county ordinances, he wants to “hear from people who have real-world experience regulating these things.” 

From there, the discussion pivoted from discussing the proposals on the table to discussing who should be at the table. Some members suggested South Dakota state and county officials would suffice. 

“I don’t know how many outside people we need to come in and tell us how to write our ordinance,” committee member Eric Scott said. 

Committee member Anthony Ventura said the listening sessions would only mean kicking discussion of the proposals — two of which he introduced — further down the road. 

“I think we’re dragging our heels here,” Ventura said.

The committee will continue discussing the issues at its next meeting.  

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been corrected since its original publication to reflect the correct number of counties with setback ordinances.

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Joshua Haiar
Joshua Haiar

Joshua Haiar is a reporter based in Sioux Falls. Born and raised in Mitchell, he joined the Navy as a public affairs specialist after high school and then earned a degree from the University of South Dakota. Prior to joining South Dakota Searchlight, Joshua worked for five years as a multimedia specialist and journalist with South Dakota Public Broadcasting.

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