Proposed carbon dioxide pipeline for North Dakota is a hot topic among landowners | Bismarck

Kurt Swenson and his wife live in Oliver County where a pipeline developer is looking to inject carbon dioxide emissions beneath their land.

The farm has been in his wife’s family for 111 years. Although he says he has no opposition to the project and that such an effort “can be a good thing for North Dakota,” he told landowners gathered in Bismarck on Wednesday that some aspects of it- these made him think.

“We love to listen to the pheasants sing and the coyotes screech and the morning doves coo, sip coffee on the porch in the morning and, especially on summer evenings, sit and watch the endless stars,” he said. declared. “As you can imagine, we would like to preserve the value we derive from the enjoyment of our land.”

He said the initial rental agreement offered by Summit Carbon Solutions would have given him no say in the location of equipment such as compressors or lights, and he seeks to avoid a scenario in which they end up not away from his bedroom window.

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“I want a right as a landowner over where these things go on our property,” he said.

He is working with a lawyer and other landowners in the area to negotiate different lease terms for Summit’s Midwest Carbon Express pipeline. The line would capture carbon dioxide from more than 30 ethanol plants in the Midwest, traversing 2,000 miles across five states to Oliver and Mercer counties northwest of Bismarck, where emissions would be injected into underground rock cavities for permanent storage. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change if released into the atmosphere.

The project was a hot topic Wednesday at a conference on rock cavities, more formally called “porous space.” The Northwest Landowners Association hosted the event, where many speakers spoke about the pipeline and attendees discussed it in the hallways between presentations.

A speech came from Summit.

“We are building this project so that we can develop this porous space and hopefully provide landowners interested in this project the opportunity to monetize this porous space,” said Jeff Skaare, director of land, legal and regulatory affairs for the society.

Swenson directed his comments to landowners in a similar situation to his family, suggesting that they work with their neighbors, research the project thoroughly and hire a competent lawyer if approached to sign a lease. .

Many carbon capture and storage projects are underway in North Dakota, and more are eyeing the state. Officials in North Dakota have embraced the technology, and researchers have spent years studying the rocks that make up the Williston Basin for their storage potential.

“We are setting a precedent for a potentially large industry in the state of North Dakota,” Swenson said. “Taking the time now to have thoughtful discussion, debate, dialogue and effort in the process of this development will only lead to a better outcome for everyone involved.”

Such discussions are also taking place in other parts of North Dakota, far from where the project will inject carbon emissions. Landowners along the pipeline route are concerned about its safety and the potential for eminent domain, which would involve seizing land use for the project if the landowners fail to reach an agreement with the company. Landowners would still be compensated.

More than 130 people in Richland County submitted a petition to their county commissioners on Tuesday urging them to pass a resolution opposing the use of eminent domain for the pipeline in the far southeast of the state. .

The commission voted on Tuesday to move forward with such a resolution, and landowners in Emmons and Dickey counties are considering presenting their leaders with a similar proposal, said Todd McMichael, a landowner in Richland County. active in efforts. The pipeline would cross more than 6,000 feet of his property.

The resolution “buys us time and will attract attention,” he told reporters at the conference on Wednesday.

The North Dakota Public Service Commission licenses pipelines. McMichael said it’s possible that Richland County’s opposition to eminent domain could factor into state regulators’ considerations.

The PSC does not directly allow eminent domain; this matter is often dealt with in court.

McMichael added that he hopes the resolution will get the attention of Governor Doug Burgum, who has touted the project in recent speeches. The governor announced a goal last year to make the state carbon neutral by 2030, largely offsetting emissions by capturing carbon dioxide and storing it underground through projects such as this one. from Summit.

“Based on conversations with Summit Carbon Solutions, their goal is to enter into right-of-way agreements with individual landowners without using eminent domain, and the Governor supports this direction,” Burgum’s spokesperson said, Mike Nowatzki, at the Tribune.

A Summit rep in an interview last year said eminent domain was a possibility, but the company tries to voluntarily enter into agreements with landowners first. Eminent domain is among a number of issues that landowners along the pipeline route in the Midwest have raised in news reports and in meetings with the company over the past few months.

The landowners peppered Skaare with various questions during Wednesday’s event. He said the company’s commitment is to “work with landowners, community leaders, stakeholders and more with respect, honesty and transparency.”

The company is in talks with landowners to secure leases for the project, and it has begun the permitting process in several states. The line should cross the Dakotas, Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa. Skaare said he expects Summit to submit an application to the North Dakota PSC within several months.

The line is supposed to pass under the Missouri River north of Bismarck before reaching several injection wells farther west. Summit is evaluating three potential locations for the line to cross the river, he said. The company has engaged with landowners and the US Army Corps of Engineers, which is involved in the permitting process at the federal level.

The Corps has been embroiled in a six-year dispute over the Dakota Access Pipeline, which crosses under the river south of Bismarck, just upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

The Summit pipeline has an even greater scope in terms of size and price. It is expected to cost $4.5 billion.

Contact Amy R. Sisk at 701-250-8252 or

Jessica C. Bell