New hearings, same arguments on carbon pipeline project

A round of public testimony wrapped up as part of renewed efforts by a company seeking permit approval in North Dakota for an underground pipeline carrying carbon emissions. Economic benefits were again touted but the plan still has opponents.

Last year, North Dakota’s Public Service Commission denied a permit request from Summit Carbon Solutions, which wants to build a maze of pipelines in several Midwestern states. Emissions from ethanol plants would be captured for underground storage in North Dakota.

Skott Skokos, executive director of the Dakota Resource Council, said his organization remains unconvinced it would be a worthwhile project.

“It felt like deja vu,” Skokos observed. “I don’t think Summit did anything to relax the concerns of the public.”

Company officials have submitted a new application with a revised route as they try to ease concerns about safety and landowner rights. During comment periods, Summit leaders and other speakers discussed how the project would provide economic boosts, including corn prices. However, skeptics restated their concerns about potential ruptures and lasting negative effects on the landscape.

Skokos pointed out large carbon-capture projects like these have yet to prove themselves, noting smaller initiatives are not as likely to rile up opponents. He pointed to the Red Trail ethanol plant in North Dakota.

“They’re storing it, basically, almost on-site, next to the facility and they’re not affecting a bunch of landowners in the process,” Skokos said.

The Summit regulatory case has two upcoming public hearings in North Dakota, one scheduled for May 24 and the other on June 4. The company has run into similar opposition and permitting headwinds in other states, including South Dakota.


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