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House committee passes controversial carbon pipeline bill


A bill attempting to keep the carbon pipeline conversation going passes the House Commerce and Energy Committee.

Bill sponsors say it has undergone ten amendments in attempt to create the best compromise for all parties.

Senate Bill 201 aims to provide new regulation requirements for pipelines in the state. It also imposes a possible surcharge on certain pipelines that is paid to the counties it runs through.

Representative Will Mortenson is the Republican Majority Leader and the prime sponsor of the bill. He presented committee members with amendment J.

The amendment makes state permits for pipelines able to overrule local county ordinances – this includes setback distances.

Mortenson said the amendment does not completely satisfy any one party which he said is an example of the bill’s quality.

“I Tried to bring the version of this that meets the goals of most and of course we heard a lot of opponents, and most of the people sitting in this room are opponents, so, did I hit the mark? Probably never. Probably never, right? We have competing interests here and so, are we going to be able to satisfy all of them? No. No we’re not," said Mortenson. "But I would tell you that there are folks who supported this bill that opposed the last two. And I’m not doing this necessarily for Summit Carbon or anybody else, I’m doing this for our state.”

Opponents said the amendment hurts local control by stripping counties of pipeline citing oversight.

Brian Jorde is a lawyer who represents hundreds of landowners in the state. He was legal representation for landowners in Navigator CO2’s and Summit Carbon Solution’s permit hearings with the Public Utilities Commission. He said the bill would reverse the state standard of relying on the PUC’s expertise for pipeline safety.

“This pipeline, could’ve been built two years ago if they had just treated people fairly and respected counties. They still have a path, there’s infinite paths. Just respect the counties, respect the people, go around if you have to, and get the dang thing built. This bill, disrespects counties, disrespects people, and has too many undefined terms and too many unintended consciousness. It was rushed, the right people weren’t at the table,” said Jorde.

The committee voted to pass the amended version of the bill in an eight to five vote. It now heads to the House floor.

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.