The Dakota Scout, Sioux Falls, SD – Oct. 20, 2023

By: Joe Sneve

Anti-pipeline landowners and politicians are celebrating Friday’s announcement by Navigator CO2 that it’s abandoning a project once slated to run through parts of eastern South Dakota.

But another company also eyeing South Dakota for a carbon sequestration pipeline and facing heavy pubic opposition is using the opportunity to invite Navigator’s former ethanol plant clients to hook onto its pipeline instead.

Within hours of Navigator officially pulling the plug on its line, which would have pumped carbon emitted from ethanol plants to an underground storage location in Illinois, Summit Carbon Solutions issued a statement saying it’s as committed as ever to seeing its project to the finish line.

“Summit Carbon Solutions welcomes and is well positioned to add additional plants and communities to our project footprint. We remain as committed to our project as the day we announced it,” the company said in a statement provided to The Dakota Scout late Friday morning. “It’s not often you get the opportunity to positively impact an industry that touches every farmer and rural community across the Midwest.”

SCS’s planned pipeline is slated to run through 18 counties, entering South Dakota in Lincoln County before running north and out of the state in McPherson County. Navigator’s defunct route would have run through five southeast South Dakota counties, connecting to a Valero ethanol plant in Aurora and two other facilities in Chancellor and Hudson owned by POET, the world’s largest ethanol producer that is headquartered in Sioux Falls.

Navigator’s line would have served three other out-of-state plants operated by POET.

POET isn’t shooting down the idea it could hook onto SCS’s project.

In a statement sent to The Dakota Scout, a POET spokesperson said the company will continue to pursue technology that keeps the ethanol industry viable amid changing regulatory environments.

“As a company, POET remains committed to pursuing viable technologies that help us maintain access to fuel markets and increase value for farmers,” the statement read. “We believe that states that are slow to adopt these technologies risk being left behind.”

Despite Navigator’s limited footprint in contrast to SCS’s, the former had less success gaining access to private lands along its pipeline route. Before a denial of its route permit by the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission in September, the Texas-based company reported it’d obtained voluntary agreements with landowners along 30 percent of its route.

SCS, though, enjoys a much higher voluntary agreement rate.

“We have reached voluntary agreements along nearly 75 percent of our proposed route. We are pleased that the vast majority of landowners and farmers across the Midwest embrace the project,” the company spokesperson said. “We look forward to building a generational asset that will create new markets for the ethanol industry and farmers.”