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Brian Jorde Comments on South Dakota PUC’s Move to Table Summit Carbon Pipeline Hearing to Fall 2023

Water pipe being laid at the Louis & Clark Regional Water System pipeline construction site in South Dakota

Domina Law Group Managing Lawyer Brian Jorde was recently quoted in a pair of articles from KELOLAND News and the Mitchell Daily Republic discussing a decision from the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission to move an evidentiary hearing about Summit Carbon Solutions’ proposed carbon pipeline to later this fall.

The decision is a departure from a proposed schedule submitted by the commission in November 2022 that called for an evidentiary hearing over permitting for the South Dakota portion of Summit’s multi-billion-dollar pipeline that would capture carbon emissions from ethanol plants and move it in the form of liquid CO2 to North Dakota for underground sequestration. Under that schedule, a hearing before the commission would have started in late April 2023.

But as reported by KELOLAND and the Mitchell Daily Republic, the South Dakota PUC decided to table the hearing and look at dates in September 2023 or later.

The decision is a victory for landowners who oppose the pipeline and comes after Domina Law’s Brian Jorde and other advocates opposed the proposed schedule. As Jorde and fellow counsel for landowners noted in a filing, a hearing in April-May would have been “a terrible time for farmers right in the heart of major spring work and preparatory work for planting.” and conflict with a trial Jorde has scheduled in Iowa at the beginning of May.

At its meeting on December 20, Jorde told the PUC that the hearing would likely run at least 20 days, double the timeline proposed by the commission’s staff, and argued that the scope of testimony and number of participants would warrant more time to prepare. He also reiterated the poor timing for landowners in the region:

“Summit no doubt knows that some corn planting is starting, bean planting is nearing, calving continues for many, some are getting ready to turn out cattle to summer grazing,” Jorde said of the late April proposal. “It's the absolute worst time for the participation of the landowners here, and remember we have an unprecedented docket in the history of South Dakota PUC in terms of participants.”

The delay is yet another hurdle for Summit Carbon Solutions, which needs to obtain a siting permit from the Public Utilities Commission to build the nearly 500 miles of its 2,000-mile pipeline that run through South Dakota and begin construction before January 1, 2026 to qualify for federal tax credits. The permitting process consists of testimony and rebuttal over several weeks, a waiting period of at least 10 days, an evidentiary hearing, post-hearing briefs, and a decision from the three PUC commissions, who may grant the permit, grant it with conditions, or deny it entirely.

A proposed schedule submitted by landowners called for a hearing 375 days after Summit Carbon submits a complete and valid permit applications – making the earliest date for a hearing December 2023. The commission will hear further arguments about finalizing a date for the evidentiary hearing at a meeting on Thursday, January 5.

Read the full articles featuring quotes from Brian Jorde here and here.