Navigator not spared from pipeline opposition despite company's lighter-handed strategy
South Dakota Public Utilities Commission to make ruling following weeks of testimony from proponents, opponents
PIERRE — The fate of a pipeline set to run through South Dakota lies solely in the hands of Public Utilities Commissioners after a marathon of debate came to a close Tuesday.
The Navigator Heartland Greenway project slated to haul carbon from ethanol plants in eastern South Dakota to Illinois brought two and a half weeks of testimony from advocates and opponents for the 112-miles of line the carbon sequestration company, Navigator CO2, intends to build. The project calls for lines across five South Dakota counties, and is among two active pipelines in the state drawing opposition from landowner groups and lawmakers alike.
“This is the longest hearing I have been involved in ever,” Commissioner Chris Nelson told The Dakota Scout Tuesday, the eleventh day of hearings on Navigator’s pipeline permit since July 25.
Nelson’s been on the three-member board since 2011. And while the proceedings have been robust with arguments of both property rights violations and the future viability of the ethanol industry, Navigator’s application consideration is only a precursor to upcoming hearings on the Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline also slated for September, only days after a final decision on Navigator will be handed down by the PUC.
And that’s because Summit Carbon Solutions has exerted its eminent domain powers to conduct preliminary surveying on some of the parcels along its route. That’s in contrast to Navigator, which has not used eminent domain to obtain the easements it has secured along its route to date, said Elizabeth Burns-Thompson, vice president of government and public affairs with Navigator.
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