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Senate committee passes two bills regarding landowners rights and pipeline land survey easements

A Senate committee today (Thursday) passed two bills purporting to support landowner rights regarding carbon pipeline land surveys and easements.

There’s one problem, however. The landowners who testified did not like the bills.

HB1185, passed the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee, 8 to 1. It would provide a more defined process in how carbon pipelines could come onto properties to examine and survey the land for routing the pipeline. 

That bill faced less animus.

HB1186 also passed the Senate committee on a 7 to 2 vote. It defines the requirements to grant a carbon pipeline easement.

However, that bill particularly upset the landowners who testified.

Joy Hohn, a landowner from Hartford, did not see HB1186 as helping landowners like her.

“I cannot tell you how personal this is for landowners that have been affected by lawsuits that have been served to them and how we’ve been dealt with for the last few years,” Hohn said. “And I know that (bill sponsor) Senator (Casey) Crabtree said that he had consulted landowners, but had he really consulted the true landowners that have been affected by these pipelines? I am here to tell you he has not.”

Betty Strom, another landowner from Sioux Falls, was even more direct.

“I know you think we’re just talking about crazy landowners,” Strom said about HB1186. “But I know a lot of information that I’m sure some of you maybe don’t know. I’m an educated person, and it really bothers me the way you just sweep through everything and say, oh, 41st day, or oh, we like this because it’s for Summit (Carbon Solutions). I don’t hear much that’s really for us.”

Republican Sen. Steve Kolbeck, a former Public Utilities Commissioner, tried to assuage the landowners.

“First of all, I have not met a more kind, intelligent, and well-prepared person than Joy Hohn, and I have tremendous respect for her and Betty (Strom),” Kolbeck said. “We’ve had some good discussions, but sometimes we have conscious or unconscious bias, and what that is, is we see our own choices and judgments relatively common or appropriate to our existing circumstances.”

Kolbeck added, “The problem as a legislator is, although we may come across and think that we’re doing things and why we’re making our decisions, I just want them to know that we do listen to you, and we’ve had some good discussions, but we disagree.”

Brent Koenecke (kin-icky), a lobbyist for Summit Carbon Solutions which supports the bills, said the easements they’ve paid for often average six figures, with some even coming in at a million dollars or more. He thinks his company has been fair to landowners.

“Nobody gets offered less than $5,000, even if it’s just across this desk, across a corner of somebody’s property,” Koenecke said. That’s the minimum. The average is $157,000.” 

The bills now head to the Senate for consideration.

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