Minnehaha County Commission hosting public hearing on pipeline policy May 23

The commission is considering an ordinance that would regulate carbon sequestration pipelines passing through from Iowa to North Dakota.

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In total, the Summit Carbon project consists of 2,000 miles of pipeline and 32 ethanol plants in Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota, with nearly 500 of those miles and seven ethanol plants in eastern and northern South Dakota.
Contributed / Summit Carbon presentation to South Dakota landowners

SIOUX FALLS— Minnehaha County residents will be able to speak their piece on a newly crafted county policy governing transmission pipelines at the county commission meeting Tuesday, May 23.

The proposed ordinance, which was approved on a 6-0 vote by the county’s planning and zoning commission after a lengthy hearing last month, is the first of its kind for the county and addresses setbacks and safety issues.

Some landowners have been “assaulting” lawmakers in pulling against the pipelines, one ethanol lobbyist said during a meeting in the South Dakota State Capitol.

Other issues involved in the controversial carbon dioxide pipeline will be addressed by federal and state officials in the coming months, including construction safety, liability issues, permitting and eminent domain to obtain easements. Proposed carbon pipelines would run from Iowa, through South Dakota, and into North Dakota where the byproduct from ethanol plants would be stored in underground caverns.

County Planning and Zoning Director Scott Anderson said commissioners would be “open to suggestions” from the public at the hearing which will be during its 9 a.m. meeting.

At the zoning hearing, County Commissioner Joe Kippley said he believes there will need to be more dialogue before the ordinance is ultimately passed but added his goal is to find a way to have regulations adopted that protect citizens but do not kill any potential pipeline projects.


More than 20 residents and company officials spoke at the zoning meeting raising a series of issues involved in the pipeline.

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The Minnehaha County Commission, from right, Gerald Beninga, Joe Kippley, Jean Bender, Jen Bleyenberg and Dean Karsky.
Contributed / Minnehaha County

Anderson said the transmission line proposal is different from distribution pipelines for natural gas or water. He said it is something new in the county land-use regulations.

One of the main issues has been setbacks, something the county can address. The new ordinance calls for a 750 feet pipeline setback for dwellings, churches and businesses and 1,000 feet for schools and public parks. For cities within the county it would require a one-mile setback from larger cities, three-quarters of a mile for municipalities between 500 and 5,000 residents and a half mile for those under 500 residents.

The new law also addresses some public safety issues as it requires information to be provided to the Minnehaha County office of emergency management, including:

  •  The exact content and all known dangers of the regulated substance, including the flammable, toxic or corrosive gas or substance being transported. 
  • A copy of applicant’s emergency response and hazard mitigation plan as may be required by the federal safety agency overseeing pipelines nationwide.
  • The names, phone numbers and contact information of the applicant’s emergency response personnel.

Trevor Jones of Summit Carbon Solutions said during the planning and zoning commission said safety is the company's top concern. He said they have been meeting with county officials and first responders throughout the county.
Jones also presented to the commission a map of existing pipelines within the Sioux Falls area, and said they don’t have to meet any setback requirements and that there are already approximately 200 miles of hazardous material pipelines within the county.

Another company representative, Aaron Aldridge, said carbon dioxide pipelines are safe and that what’s being transported is not explosive or combustible. He also said landowners won’t be required to have pipeline insurance as it would be the responsibility of Summit Carbon Solutions and that the company would be responsible for anything that goes wrong.

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When asked who would be doing the inspections during the installation of the pipeline, Aldridge stated that a third party would handle all of that work.

In proposing the ordinance, the county stated it would “promote good land use, aid in protecting property values and determine impacts on existing infrastructure.”


County legal staff prepared the proposal.

“Commissioners could tweak the ordinance,” Anderson said. “I guess we’ll see what happens.”

Anderson said he expects both supporters and opponents of the pipeline to again appear at the hearing on Tuesday.

More hearings on the pipeline are scheduled for later this year by the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission.

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