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Bill removing eminent domain from Co2 pipeline projects fails in committee

(South Dakota Broadcasters Association) Opponents saw their hopes dashed for the second year in a row as the dream bill of landowner advocates, intended to halt construction of a carbon pipeline across eastern South Dakota, suffered defeat in the Legislature.

But the setback wasn’t isolated; four additional bills addressing pipelines and their construction met a similar fate in the House Commerce and Energy Committee Monday in a marathon hearing.

Rep. Jon Hansen introduced House Bill 1219, aiming to prohibit carbon dioxide pipelines from utilizing eminent domain for construction purposes. This measure would likely spell the end for Summit Carbon Solutions’ carbon pipeline plans in eastern South Dakota. Specifically, the bill targets companies transporting carbon for “geological storage or sequestration,” directly challenging Summit and its plans to sequester carbon into the ground in North Dakota.
A nearly identical bill made it through the House last year before facing easy defeat in a Senate committee.
Hansen emphasized the bill’s intent to allow pipeline construction but without unjustly condemning private property.
“This bill lets you build the pipeline, go ahead and do it,” Hansen said. “Just do it voluntarily, without unjustly condemning hundreds of landowners private property. That is all we are asking.”
Familiar faces from previous efforts to thwart Summit’s plans returned to share their concerns about the pipeline’s potential negative impacts.
And in addition to opposition from landowners, utility companies raised concerns about the bill’s unintended consequences for common utilities like water and electricity. Steve Willard, Executive Director of the South Dakota Electric Utility Companies, cautioned against disrupting the state’s business environment.
“Make no mistake about it, this was brought here to kill this particular project,” said Steve Willard, Executive Director of the South Dakota Electric Utility Companies. “I would tell you not to turn the tables upside down on people who are here in South Dakota trying to figure out how to do business.”

The House Commerce and Energy Committee has become a graveyard for bills seeking to protect landowners’ rights regarding carbon pipelines. Of several pipeline bills brought before the committee, only two have emerged, both “compromise bills” crafted by legislative leadership.
Though Hansen’s bill narrowly failed, losing by just one vote, it did represent a departure from similar efforts. Other anti-pipeline, pro-landowner bills have seen much sounder defeats by the same committee.
Hansen expressed intentions to smoke the bill out on the House floor, a legislative maneuver that would allow the full House to debate it despite its defeat in committee.
“This bill is absolutely critical to defending constitutional property rights and protecting South Dakotans from having their land taken,” Hansen said in a statement. “It needs a full hearing on the floor and landowners across this state need the protections this bill offers them.”
Aside from Hansen’s bill, several other proposals met their demise during the committee’s proceedings. Rep. Karla Lems sought to allow any party in a Public Utilities Commission hearing to request an extension, while Rep. John Sjaarda proposed requiring companies to obtain at least 90% voluntary easement agreements before pursuing eminent domain.
Two additional bills, including one addressing hydrogen pipelines, were tabled by the committee in consultation with their prime sponsors.

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