Brian Jorde Quoted in Chicago Tribune Cover Story on Navigator CO2 Pipeline Victory

Brian Jorde Quoted in Chicago Tribune Cover Story on Navigator CO2 Pipeline Victory

In the weeks following Navigator CO2 Venture’s announcement that it would be cancelling its proposed multi-billion-dollar carbon capture pipeline, Domina Law Group Managing Lawyer Brian Jorde has again received notable coverage for his role in shaping the legal strategy that led to this historic victory. This includes a recent cover story published by the Chicago Tribune.

The Chicago Tribune article profiles the historic victory as a battle that pitted farmers and landowners across the Midwest against Navigator CO2 Ventures and its proposed $3+ billion-dollar carbon pipeline, the Heartland Greenway.

As reported by the Tribune, Navigator’s project would have stored up to 15 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually by capturing emissions from Midwestern ethanol plants, transporting them in the form of liquified CO2 via pipeline, and sequestering it deep underground in central Illinois. The Heartland Greenway would have earned Navigator and estimated $1.3 billion a year in federal tax credits.

But Navigator faced major obstacles in its path to profits – namely the opposition waged by landowners, activities, and our own Brian Jorde.

A David vs. Goliath Battle

In what the Tribune referred to as a David vs. Goliath battle, landowners and activists teamed up with Domina Law’s Brian Jorde to oppose the project over numerous issues, including potential impacts to farmland and drainage systems, safety concerns, and property rights. In fact, opposition to Navigator’s attempted use of eminent domain – a right typically reserved for the government and public-use projects – became a major focus of the challenges, as it would have provided the Omaha-based corporation backed by powerhouse investment giant BlackRock with the right to access private land, build its pipeline, and reap substantial private profits on the backs of landowners.

Using a legal strategy devised by Jorde, landowners challenged permit applications submitted by Navigator in South Dakota, Iowa, and other states where Navigator’s pipeline would have traveled.

As Jorde told the Tribune, a turning point in the battle against Navigator came during a hearing before the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission over the summer:

“Based on my cross-examination, how the evidence was coming in, and just taking a commonsense approach to what was being said, I had the belief that they could be beaten,” Jorde said. “I had the belief that we could actually win, (while) going into that proceeding it was hard not to think, why are we even doing this?”

Other victories, including recommendations from an Illinois Commerce Commission senior gas engineer to deny Navigator’s permit approval and low acceptance of agreements among landowners, also provided Jorde with greater leverage over Navigator:

“It’s death by a thousand cuts,” Jorde said. “How do you fight a giant? You don’t have a bazooka so it’s here and there and over time and (with) persistence.”

Ultimately, the strategy proved successful when the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to deny the company a key permit. Just six weeks after that denial, in October, Navigator announced that it was dropping the project.

In his interview with the Tribune, Jorde commented on the key victory:

“That was the end of the end,” said Brian Jorde, the lawyer representing landowners in four states — North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa ― in the fight against the Navigator and Summit pipelines. The holy grail for the opposition (to these projects) is getting to the financial side where the mega-investors start to feel a little shaky about it. “That’s when things start to unravel.”

Domina Law Group’s Brian Jorde played a significant role in developing the legal strategy that led to this historic victory and worked tirelessly with other advocates and landowners for months to oppose the project. But while the victory is worth celebrating, Jorde and our team remain committed to continuing our efforts in helping landowners oppose other major carbon pipelines, including a project proposed by Summit Carbon Solutions.

You can read the full Chicago Tribune article featuring Brian Jorde’s interview here.