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New study focuses on the economic benefits of carbon capture pipelines

A new study is outlining the potential economic of proposed carbon capture pipelines in South Dakota.

Dakota institute is a Sioux Falls based nonprofit economic research organization that prepared the economic impact study. The South Dakota Ethanol Producers Association helped develop the report.

The study focuses on Summit Carbon Solutions and Navigator CO2. It estimates that the total impact on the state’s GDP between these two companies will amount to $3.3 billion when complete.

DaNita Murray is the Executive Director for South Dakota Corn. She said the survey projects economic growth but with some assumptions.

“We really tried to look at the economic overall impact to South Dakota across, let's say for ease, 10 years, with the assumption that there would be an increase in 20% ethanol production here in the state,” said Murray.

Tom Johnson is the president and CEO of Elevate Rapid City. He said while the economic impact of CO2 pipelines looks promising, the real impact depends on where the workers for the pipelines originate from.

“It really does matter if the job is coming from a local source or from somebody on the outside, because that money stays in the economy and it multiplies if it’s a local job," said Johnson. "But if it is somebody coming from the outside, you know, a technician from two states away, the money goes back out. So I think it matters who fills these jobs.”

Critics of the study said it includes assumptions that make it inaccurate.

But pipeline backers said the economic benefits are clear. That includes Keith Alverson, a farmer who lives near Chester. He said he looks forward to the pipelines being built.

“We saw the vibrancy of the communities around these ethanol plants as they were built, and this brings another chapter in that. With the added value of having carbon be sequestered and being taken away from these plants brings and so I just see that adding to the vibrancy around these communities and throughout the state,” said Alverson.  

According to the study, carbon capture pipelines would boost ethanol production in the state, fueling demand for tens of millions of additional bushels of corn.

Evan Walton is an SDPB reporter based in Sioux Falls. Evan holds a Master’s in English Literature from Southern New Hampshire University and was honorably discharged from the United States Army in 2015, where he served for five years as an infantryman.