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Senate committee kills CO2 bill impacting pipelines


A legislative panel has killed a bill impacting carbon pipelines and eminent domain, marking a significant victory for companies looking to develop carbon pipelines in South Dakota.

House Bill 1133 narrowly passed the House but died after charged debate in the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee Thursday.

It aimed to define what a commodity is considered in the state.

Developers of proposed carbon pipelines want CO2 to be treated as a commodity so their pipelines are considered common carriers. This allows the companies to use eminent domain.

Proponents of the bill said the developers’ intent to store CO2 underground in a different state makes the transported CO2 worthless – therefore, not a commodity.

Rep. Karla Lems supported the bill. She said the bill does not stop progress, but instead allows for better farmer relations.

“HB1133 allows economic development of any kind while at the same time leveling the playing field for landowners," Lems said. "So they have the choice to accept the restrictions and effects of a project, such as a hazardous pipeline, or respectively decline such an intrusion on their land. But absolutely nothing prevents these projects from moving forward on their own merit, and without the government holding its thumb on the scale to the detriment of South Dakota landowners and voters."

Opponents said CO2 is in fact a commodity, and that the bill was attacking a decision already made in state law.

Bret Kinikie is a lawyer and registered lobbyist for the Summit Carbon project. He said the project is following laws already established in the state.

“The legislators that met previously to you set up the laws that are necessary for all the projects - whether they carry oil, gas, or carbon dioxide - to be permitted and be constructed. So the Summit Carbon project relied on those laws. There statues were long-standing and we relied on them to create the project and put the necessary structure in place. The pipeline is a transportation company, set up as a common carrier to meet the existing laws that are on the books,” said Kinikie.   

The committee killed the bill in a nine to zero vote, removing a potential major obstacle for Summit Carbon Solutions and Navigator CO2 in the development of their pipelines.

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.
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