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South Dakota PUC commissioners deny Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline application

Summit Carbon Solutions' proposed map of pipelines through eastern South Dakota
Summit Carbon Solutions' proposed map of pipelines through eastern South Dakota

The Public Utilities Commission has voted to deny Summit Carbon Solutions an application for its carbon pipeline project before formal proceedings.

This comes a week after the commission denied a similar project by Navigator CO2. The first motion in Summit Carbon Solution’s application hearing came from PUC staffers who recommended a denial.

The move came after the company withdrew a motion asking the PUC to overrule county ordinances along the proposed pipeline route.

Commissioner Gary Hanson is the Vice Chairman of the PUC and led Summit’s hearing.

He said he does not like the way the company approached gaining easements in the state.

“I’m concerned with how many easements you’ve pursued through lawsuits. Do you have a number," asked Hanson. ‘150 or 160 to my best knowledge’,” responded Brett Koenecke, Summit’s legal representative.

Without voluntary easements or PUC approval to veto county commission decisions, PUC staffers argued the project could not be built.

Commissioner Chris Nelson challenged Summit’s legal team to answer how their current application could comply with state law.

“Why are you not in the same boat? I mean, your testimony of your witnesses vs. where the project is at, and where the counties are at, at this point, it appears to me, that it is an impossibility. Explain to me why its not,” asked Nelson.

Summit’s legal representative Brett Koenecke said regardless of the outcome over the company’s application, carbon pipelines are going to happen.

“I’m not arrogant enough to think that this application is going to be somehow rubber stamped by you as commissioners. But this project is ultimately going to be built. It’s too important to too many people both within this state and without. Carbon capture is the future of agriculture,” said Koenecke.    

Commissioner Josh Haeder was appointed to act in place of Commissioner Kristi Fiegen.

All three commissioners voted to deny Summit’s application to construct a carbon pipeline in the state.

Summit Carbon Solutions has the opportunity to re-apply.

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.