Landowner reacts to CO2 pipeline cancellation

Published: Oct. 21, 2023 at 10:47 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Navigator Pipeline’s plan to build its pipeline in South Dakota was denied in September. On Friday, the announcement came that the pipeline company had pulled the plug.

“The company has decided to cancel its pipeline project.”

Those were the words announcing the Navigator CO2 Heartland Greenway Project would not continue.

“Elated would probably be my personal feelings,” said Bruce Burkhart.

Burkhart has fought the pipeline since the first announcement.

“Eight of my soon-to-be 12 grandchildren would live within a mile of that pipeline,” he said.

He credits the local government.

“I commend the PUC and the Minnehaha County and the Moody County planning and zoning and county commissioners — they were absolutely instrumental in making a stand for the landowners and people of South Dakota,” said Burkhart.

Attorney Brian Jorde sees this as another milestone to protect landowner rights.

“Very pleased for my clients, but we want to stay vigilant. There’s so much money at play, and I’m sure someone — if not them — will be coming back.”

He believes other companies may try to step in.

“I’m sure Summit is salivating at this opportunity, and the excuse ethanol plants have been providing as well — ‘We can’t get out of the contract. We can’t get out of the contract,’ which is of course nonsense. And so now this will put the feet to the fire,” Burkhart said.

Dakota News Now contacted Navigator, asking about those who signed land agreements. Spokesperson Elizabeth Burns-Thompson responded:

“Regarding the pipeline easements, we signed option agreements with landowners. This means landowners don’t have a full easement on their property, and the options will expire after a few years.”

But Jorde believes a lot could happen before expiration.

“The power is still in Navigator’s hands, and they could sell that option or transfer it to Summit, for instance, and someone could come and execute it. So, those landowners are not out of the woods.”

On the Burkhart farm, the eminent domain protection signs will stay.

“Not taking them down. That’s correct,” Burkhart said.

He believes partnering with other landowners could affect the next legislative session.

“Eminent domain reform will be one of the priorities. Certainly, we have to do that. Yes,” he said.