First South Dakota CO2 pipeline application denied

Published: Sep. 6, 2023 at 4:12 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Navigator filed an application for the Heartland Greenway CO2 pipeline in September of last year.

After many meetings, interventions and filed paperwork, the decision was unanimous by the Public Utilities Commission Wednesday — their application was denied.

The process began with legal filings, meetings with landowners and requests to purchase property for the pipeline. Landowners that Dakota News Now spoke to showed us a letter of introduction that also included mentions of eminent domain.

Last month, PUC meetings that took the nature of a court proceeding wrapped up the application process.

After a year of silence from the commissioners while they gathered information and listened to all participants, it was time for them to speak.

Each commissioner was only to take ten minutes, but some went well beyond that limit as they spoke of a lack of cooperation from Navigator to provide answers or certain documents, ultimately culminating in each commissioner deciding that Navigator did not satisfy the burden of proof.

“Think of a daily mindset of landowners. Is there a leak? Will I know? How can I protect my family?” said Chairperson Kristie Fiegen.

“CO2 can incapacitate and kill humans and animal life without warning. Unlike the natural gas and propane pipeline companies, Navigator is not a utility,” said Gary Hanson, SD PUC vice chairperson.

“Perhaps most telling to me are the percentage of landowners who have made conscious decisions to say, ‘No, thank you,’ to the money offered for this event because they’re not willing to trade their welfare for dollars and cents,” said Chris Nelson, SD PUC commissioner.

Because Navigator could exercise their options to appeal or re-apply, the commissioners will not comment on the application until the docket is closed, which could be several months at the earliest.