On Tuesday, Sept. 11, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (SD PUC) denied Summit Carbon Solutions’ (Summit) application for the company’s proposed CO2 pipeline. The decision was based on concerns raised by four counties that Summit would violate those counties’ setbacks requirements. The setbacks are intended to protect those living and working near these high-pressure and potentially dangerous pipelines from the effects of a rupture or leak. 

According to the SD PUC, Summit would, by its own admission, be unable to comply with those setback requirements, and did not obtain authority to override those setbacks. Without proof that the proposed project will abide by all local laws, the project cannot move forward, and the PUC denied the permit. 

This ruling comes on the heels of a September 6 decision by the SD PUC to reject Navigator CO2’s application for a permit to construct its Heartland Greenway carbon capture pipeline. In that instance, the commission also unanimously denied the company’s request to preempt county pipeline setback ordinances. 

In issuing the denial, Commissioner Kristie Fiegen stated that “The burden of proof is on the applicant” and that the proposer must show that the project will not harm the public’s social, environmental, and economic well-being.  

Why is this important to Minnesota?

Summit is proposing to build over 240 miles of its five-state CO2 pipeline project in Minnesota, but only the application for the Otter Tail and Wilkin Counties portion of the project is currently before the Minnesota PUC and undergoing environmental review.  

In Minnesota, the proposed route skirts residential areas in several communities across the 10-county footprint. No site-specific rupture models have been conducted for these pipelines to help the public, the Minnesota PUC, or Summit itself, determine the potential impact radius of a rupture or leak.