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Setback ordinances for carbon pipelines, preempting county ordinances passes the senate

(South Dakota Broadcasters Association) Legislation that would create state setback ordinances for carbon pipelines, preempting county ordinances, is heading for a heated showdown in the House.

The Senate, the less carbon pipeline skeptical of the two chambers, advanced House Bill 201 Wednesday by a vote of 23 to 11.

That margin was one vote short of the two-thirds required to pass the bill with an emergency clause attached. But that ultimately didn’t slow down its passage, prime sponsor Casey Crabtree immediately moved to strip the emergency clause out of the bill, allowing it to pass with a simple majority. It received the same vote as before.

In lieu of individual county setback ordinances, the bill lays out a new set of safety standards and setback regulations. Proponents argue that having one set of statewide standards provides regulatory certainty to businesses.

“This gives money to farmers and counties, not out-of-state trial lawyers and environmental activists.” said the Majority Leader from Madison, referring to recently added provisions in the bill which would require carbon pipeline companies to pay counties a rate based on the amount of pipeline that passes through the county. “This is a compromise, and that means not everyone will be happy.”

Though legislative leadership has touted the bill as a part of a compromise package intended to assuage concerns of both pro- and anti- pipeline activists, it hasn’t moved the needle with essentially any of the staunchest opponents to building a carbon capture pipeline in eastern South Dakota.

“This would forever prohibit local rules regarding routing or setback distances or zoning permits,” said Sen. Tom Pischke of Dell Rapids. “It would entirely preempt all local laws and ordinances where citizens and communities voiced their opinions, and local governments did their job and passed land use ordinances.”

The Senate has been, on average, far more friendly to carbon capture pipelines than the chamber across the Rotunda over the last two years. In 2023, a bevy of bills that would have stifled, or effectively halted plans to build Summit Carbon Solutions’ pipeline passed through the House, only to meet a quick demise in the Senate.

However, the House’s anti-carbon pipeline sentiment has been toned down this year. This week, that body failed to pass a bill that would have prevented companies looking to build a carbon capture pipeline, like Summit, from being able to utilize eminent domain to do so. It was a nearly identical to a piece of legislation that the same body passed the year prior. Similarly, the House has knocked down several other pieces of legislation brought in 2024 by pipeline-skeptical lawmakers, that Summit said would ultimately hurt the project.

Still, SB 201 has been identified by opponents as the one piece of legislation over two years of efforts that could ultimately determine whether Summit’s project is able to move forward at all. And they plan to react to it as such.

“Having the ability for people to weigh in on a local level is critical to a stable and strong system,” Rep. Karla Lems told The Dakota Scout. “This bill threatens that for all of our communities.”

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