Home » ND Regulators to Weigh Restrictions On Carbon Capture Pipeline Routes, Echoing Iowa Debate
Featured Global News News North Dakota United States

ND Regulators to Weigh Restrictions On Carbon Capture Pipeline Routes, Echoing Iowa Debate

North Dakota regulators will hear arguments next month on Summit Carbon Solutions’ effort to set aside requirements in two counties that established restrictions on where carbon capture pipelines can be built — a debate that’s also playing out in Iowa.

On Wednesday, the North Dakota Public Service Commission said it would hear arguments at 2 p.m. Dec. 21 at the state capital on Summit’s request to preempt ordinances in Burleigh and Emmons counties.

The Ames company, which proposes building a $5.5 billion carbon capture pipeline across five states, says the county requirements are “unreasonably restrictive,” effectively banning its project and others like it.

Summit seeks to capture carbon emissions ethanol plants in five states, liquefying it under pressure and transporting it through a pipeline to North Dakota to sequester it deep underground. Summit seeks to build the 2,000-mile pipeline across Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and South Dakota, as well as North Dakota.

Summit renewed its effort to quash the county restrictions in September, after the North Dakota commission agreed to reconsider the company’s pipeline permit request. The three-person board initially denied Summit’s permit request in August, saying it failed to show the pipeline would have a minimal adverse impact on the state’s environment and residents.

To win reconsideration, Summit said it would route the pipeline farther from Bismarck because of concerns the project would hamper residential development planned there. Despite the concession, Summit revived its June objections to Burleigh and Emmons ordinances, saying the local requirements “would frustrate, if not outright halt, investment in North Dakota’s carbon-capture” use and storage industry, “a key driver of the North Dakota economy.”

Opponents in Bismarck, the state capital in Burleigh County, say in a filing that Summit has “deceptively argued” the county’s ordinances made a route impossible. A map that Summit submitted to regulators, “allegedly showing no route through the county, is entirely false.”

Summit must prove “it cannot find a route through Burleigh County,” Bismarck opponents said, and “there has been no evidentiary effort to date by Summit to meet that burden.

“Certainly, Summit has not made any effort either to request a variance from the county … and has not worked with the county to identify a workable route,” Bismarck opponents wrote.

North Dakota opponents pointed to Summit’s comments to South Dakota regulators, who denied the company’s permit in September after the company was unable to meet setback requirements adopted by four counties there. While complaining the ordinances would hamper its project, Summit said it heard South Dakota regulators “loud and clear” and would work with county officials to refine its permit proposal and reapply.

Summit said the South Dakota case shouldn’t be considered since its laws are different than North Dakota’s.

In Iowa, Summit and other pipeline companies have fought local efforts to require increased setbacks to distance pipelines from cities, homes, businesses, churches and schools. Pipeline developers have said county officials want to override state and federal laws.

Opponents in Iowa, North Dakota and elsewhere point a letter from federal regulators to pipeline companies that says they recognize local governments’ authority to restrict “land use and development along pipeline rights-of-way through zoning, setbacks and similar measures.”

While the pipelines are controversial, Summit and other companies have said the carbon capture is critical to helping ethanol remain viable as the nation seeks to reduce the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Iowa is the largest U.S. d of ethanol, which absorbs half the state’s also U.S.-leading corn crop.

Opponents are concerned about pipeline safety, the impact to farmland and underground drainage tile as well as the possible use of eminent domain to force unwilling landowners to sell developers access to their property for the pipeline. Summit has asked Iowa regulators eminent domain powers, but another pipeline company, Wolf Carbon Solutions, has said it can complete its project in Iowa without it.

Navigator CO2 Ventures dropped its bid to build a $3.5 billion, 1,300-mile carbon capture pipeline in Iowa and four other states in October, citing “unpredictable” regulatory and government processes, especially in South Dakota and Iowa.

Source : Des Moines Register