Eminent domain and CO2 pipelines: Legislative consensus questioned

Published: Jul. 13, 2023 at 6:09 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Many South Dakotans have a love for their land, that runs especially deep for South Dakota farmers as it passes from generation to generation.

Pictures and Videos of CO2 pipeline surveyors on South Dakota private land are circulating among South Dakotans.

“There’s a lot of people who are alarmed by what they’ve seen as far as the surveying crews. I’ve been alarmed by some of the actions that I’ve seen. But I also recognize that we have state laws,” Governor Noem said on Wednesday.

Farmers documented new ruts on their land, left by the surveyors’ heavy equipment.

“Well, you know, I’ve asked the company to talk to make sure that they are out there following the law as well,” Noem said.

Both the legislature and Governor Noem know new laws could provide landowners with more protection. The question is if they want to create those laws, and who will be creating them? Calling a special election.

“Whether it is to protect eminent domain or protect private property owners, that’s something that the legislature has to have a role in right now. They’ve washed their hands of it,” Noem expressed.

Representative John Sjaarda of Valley Springs would like to see more conversations among leadership in the state. When Governor Noem proposed a food tax cut in recent months, she advocated her position. With CO2 pipelines, he says the approach is different.

“I have no role in this pipeline issue right now,” Noem said.

“The food tax she actually did meet with us and we talked about it and discussed it. So it’d be nice just, you know, more conversation, the better I feel,” Sjaarda said.

The likelihood of changes through a special session depends on who you ask.

“But their leadership has told me they don’t have consensus. They don’t have the ability to pass a bill right now. If they were to go into a special session,” Noem said.

“We don’t know if we have a consensus until we get together and try to talk about it. I do think the legislature should vote on having one also. So we have to know that who is voting for who isn’t just to get us on record, but it would be nice if the Governor would lead,” Sjaarda explained.

Noem said she is reviewing another route outside of calling a special election, reviewing any legal standing that could provide assistance to landowners who don’t want a pipeline or surveyors on their land.

Governor Noem fielded other questions at a Sioux Falls event on Wednesday. She delivered more than just comments on eminent domain and who should call a special session regarding landowner rights.

She believes if she calls a special session, there is not a consensus on CO2 pipelines or eminent domain, making it fruitless. We did bring Noem a question posed to us by South Dakota Landowners.

We asked what the situation was with Summit Carbon Solutions being a major sponsor at Noem’s inauguration event. Who received the finances? And how does that affect those in leadership making decisions about pipelines and landowners’ rights? Noem provided her response.

“Never once gave me a campaign contribution and I don’t run the inauguration, the city of Pierre does. I have nothing to do with the inauguration. The city has her own committee and they run the inauguration and they’re the ones who secured the donation from Summit Carbon,” said Noem.

We reached out to the City of Pierre Inauguration Committee with several questions. Summit Carbon Solutions donated $10,000. There are no criteria on who can make a contribution, and some donations are made before the election takes place.