Brown County landowner not in contempt of court after tension with Summit Carbon Solutions

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 7:56 PM CDT
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A Brown County landowner facing Summit Carbon Solutions in court was found not to be in contempt of court, but says he still feels defeated.

Jared Bossly received the ruling from Judge Richard Sommers Wednesday afternoon in the Brown County Courthouse. The charge was brought forth at the request of Summit Carbon Solutions.

Bossly was accused of threatening the lives of Summit Carbon Solutions surveyors.

Summit Carbon Solutions intends to construct a carbon pipeline that will run through a dozen counties in South Dakota. The purpose is to capture carbon dioxide from ethanol plants and sequester it underground in North Dakota. This will help reduce the carbon emission footprints of the plants.

According to an affidavit declared by Andrew Roberts, the incident with Bossly occurred on May 3rd. Roberts is a crew chief for TRC Companies, which conducts survey work for Summit Carbon Solutions.

Roberts stated he and a colleague arrived at Bossly’s residence to conduct survey work. After knocking on the door Roberts claimed, “We then walked to a shop building on the property and knocked on its door, but there was no response there either.” The two then left to conduct their surveying.

Bossly said he wasn’t home when the surveyors came, but his wife was.

“I was planting some alfalfa for a neighbor about ten miles away, and my wife happened to be home at the time. She was getting in the shower and heard someone yell in the house,” said Bossly.

Bossly said his wife then called him, and he told her to check their cameras. She then saw the surveyors entering the Bossly’s shop across the road.

“They drove over to the shop and opened the door and went in there,” said Bossly. “We didn’t know who it was. She was home alone, and she was pretty rattled about the whole thing.”

According to Roberts’ statement, Mrs. Bossly approached them in her car while on the phone with Jerad. After they informed her they were with Summit Carbon Solutions, she told them they were “not wanted here.”

Roberts claims that through his wife’s speakerphone, Bossly warned the surveyors to leave the property in good condition and not to leave any trash. According to the affidavit by Roberts, Bossly then said “when I get there, I’m killing the first person I see.”

Bossly, however, says he never spoke with the surveyors.

“I never spoke to them. I was never on a phone call with them. I never had any conversation with them at all,” said Bossly.

Summit Carbon Solutions then accused Bossly of being in contempt of a court order issued by Judge Sommers in April that allowed the company to survey private land without permission from landowners.

Bossly believes the accusation was an intimidation tactic, as Bossly is strongly opposed to the pipeline being constructed on his land.

“This just kind of shows what people are dealing with out there now,” said Bossly.

Bossly was cleared of charges, but was ordered to stay 100 yards away from Summit surveyors, and he can designate somebody to represent him. Sommers said that Summit Carbon Solutions must also give at least a 24-hour notice when surveying on the property.

Bossly’s attorney, Brian Jorde, requested a sheriff or deputy also accompany the surveyors, and Sommers allowed for that if possible at the time.

Bossly, however, is still confused as to why the surveyors entered his shop or even knocked on his door.

“It’s in a different section than what is supposed to be being surveyed, so no matter what, they had no business to be there. With the court order, they don’t have to stop and talk to us anyway,” said Bossly.

There were over 50 people attending the court hearing Wednesday afternoon, most of them other landowners opposed to the pipeline.

”They drove in here to come and sit behind me. That’s a pretty powerful thing, just to have that support, and you just know that you’re not fighting the battle alone,” said Bossly.

During the hearing, Sommers sent a message to those landowners too, stating that anyone else interfering with Summit Carbon Solutions surveying will be found in contempt of court.

The court order that allows Summit to survey on private property has been appealed and will go to the South Dakota Supreme Court, and Summit Carbon Solutions’ application hearing with the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission is set to begin in September.

In regards to Wednesday’s hearing, Summit Carbon Solutions gave the following statement to Dakota News Now:

“Summit Carbon Solutions is pleased the judge made clear to all landowners they cannot interfere with surveys, which are necessary to minimize project impacts to the environment and agriculture.

The overwhelming majority of survey work conducted over the past two years has involved landowners voluntarily offering the company permission to access their land. We look forward to continuing to work with landowners in gaining access for survey. We remain dedicated to transparent, respectful dialogue with all involved parties as we continue to drive forward with our sustainable solution. In this case, our crew chief did his best to make sure the landowners knew he was on their property, so they were not surprised by their presence.”

John Satterfield, Regulatory Affairs Director for Summit Carbon Solutions