Landowners rally in Pierre, call on Noem for special session

Published: Jul. 6, 2023 at 6:15 PM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - After months of pushing for the reformation of South Dakota’s eminent domain laws, landowners in opposition to carbon sequestration pipeline projects took their fight to the state capitol, calling on Governor Kristi Noem to stand with them.

At the Property Rights Roundup in the capitol rotunda in Pierre, many landowners voiced their concerns of private companies utilizing eminent domain to construct carbon pipelines.

”One of the first things that they will tell you is if you don’t sign the easements, we will use eminent domain,” said Dennis Wolff, a McPherson County landowner who is in the path of Summit Carbon Solutions’ pipeline project.

One topic was brought up again and again by the landowners and lawmakers who spoke at the event: Governor Kristi Noem. Although she was the topic of much of the conversation, Governor Noem did not attend the event.

”I’m disappointed she didn’t come. I do believe she will hear our concerns, at least I hope she will, and I hope she will take it to heart,” said Wolff.

Rep. Karla Lems of Canton was the sponsor of HB 1133, which would have redefined what common carriers could utilize eminent domain. The bill was killed by the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee after passing through the House of Representatives.

“We govern by the consent of the governed, and the governed have showed up today to say, ‘We don’t consent.’ We don’t consent to this. It is very clear to me that this is wrong, and we are trying to make it right,” said Lems.

Now, landowners and lawmakers alike are calling on Governor Noem to call for a special session.

”I absolutely hope that the legislature and the governor decide to side with the people of South Dakota versus outside corporate interests. Take up the challenge and do what’s right for the people,” said Wolff.

Landowners at the rally came prepared with over 2,000 petitions asking Governor Noem to call a special session, which they delivered to her desk.

Wolff believes more South Dakota residents should pay attention to the issue of eminent domain laws, and making their voices heard is the first step to spreading awareness.

”It’s not just a farmer or landowner or rancher issue. This is kind of the tip of the iceberg. If they can get this through, there’s going to be more things that are going to be pushed through. I think it’s a property owner’s problem,” said Wolff.

Dakota News Now reached out to Governor Noem’s office regarding the concerns of the landowners. Her team referenced us to the following tweet Noem made on June 28: