Brian Jorde Comments on Amended SD Bill That Puts Pipeline Companies Over Property Owners

Brian Jorde Comments on Amended SD Bill That Puts Pipeline Companies Over Property Owners

Domina Law Group Managing Lawyer Brian Jorde was recently interviewed by the South Dakota Searchlight for an article discussing the latest twist in the journey of a pending measure related to a multi-billion-dollar pipeline project proposed by Summit Carbon Solutions.

As reported by the Searchlight, a panel for the South Dakota House of Representatives approved an amended version of Senate Bill 201, a high-profile measure that deals with the right of counties to regulate pipeline locations.

In its original form, SB 201 would have stripped South Dakota counties of their right to require minimum setbacks between pipelines and property. It also allowed counties where pipelines run to collect per-foot annual payments, codified rules on pipeline depth, and set conditions for when pipeline operators are responsible for repairing disrupted drain tile.

While these features of the original bill were carried over to the House’s amended version, the newly updated bill restores county’s rights to regulate setbacks, albeit with a powerful mandate that would require the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission to overrule counties if their pipeline rules are too burdensome.

Previously, the state’s Public Utilities Commission had discretion over when to strike local pipeline regulations that were found to be unreasonable. The amended bill, however, removes this discretion and requires the Commission to overrule counties when rules are “unreasonably restrictive in view of existing technology, factors of cost, or economics, or needs of parties,” or when they’re preempted by federal law.

Lawmakers say the measure is intended to “present a clear path to permitting” when pipeline companies meet all their requirements, but opponents and advocates for landowners say it plainly puts pipeline companies over property owners.

Coming off his historic victory last fall on behalf of landowners who opposed the now-quashed Navigator CO2 Ventures pipeline, Domina Law’s own Brian Jorde spoke with the South Dakota Searchlight about the amended bill and Summit Carbon’s position that it doesn’t go far enough because a ruling from a federal judge in Iowa proves that counties don’t have the right to regulate pipeline safety, an umbrella under which he believes setbacks fall.

As Jorde, who still represents landowners across South Dakota and other states where Summit Carbon Solutions’ pipeline has been proposed, told the Searchlight, Summit’s contention that counties can’t regulate setbacks and that setbacks amount to safety regulations at all is “completely and totally and utterly wrong.”

“The spin is that you can’t take away something they don’t have,” Jorde said. “That is a lie.”

Jorde went on to discuss that it’s difficult to call SB 201 a pro-property rights measure when it offers certainty to economic development projects like pipelines. As he noted:

“This isn’t about certainty. This is about rolling a red carpet over the backs of landowners, property owners and business owners in this state and giving profit certainty.”

You can read the full article featuring quotes from Brian Jorde here.

Brian Jorde and our team at Domina Law continue to fight for landowners in ongoing efforts against carbon capture pipeline projects that stand to reap massive profits and federal tax credits from property owners’ private land. This includes proposed pipelines from Summit Carbon Solutions and Wolf Carbon Solutions, which would span thousands of miles across South Dakota and other Midwest states. You can learn more about our pipeline litigation work on our blog.