A pipeline running northwest through South Dakota, proposed by Summit Carbon, will cross farmland adjacent to homes and acreages. Summit will connect with feeder lines coming from 30-plus ethanol plants located in IA, MN, NE, SD and ND. The main corridor will mostly run parallel within a couple hundred feet of the existing Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).
Liquid CO2 will be pumped underground into geological formations in central North Dakota. The result will be carbon running south in the DAPL line and carbon running north in the Summit line. Neither makes sense.
Both lines expose risk to local residents. CO2 in a concentrated form is an asphyxiate which is used to render livestock lifeless for harvesting. A recent leak of a CO2 line in Mississippi caused 40 residents to be hospitalized. Many of the residents were unable to drive away because the concentrated gas rendered their vehicles useless.
The proposed Summit line parallel to an existing DAPL line will cross 1.25 miles of farmland that I and other family members farm organically. Lying within several hundred feet of the homes of several family members, Summit poses a great risk to our families. Ditto for thousands of others. Summit claims to be risk free. But all pipelines leak.
Summit refuses to be bonded. Farm insurance companies will not cover the risk for individual landowners. There is a reason Summit refuses to be bonded. No surety company will cover such a great risk. Crossing roads, waterways and utilities in its path, Summit will sever thousands of existing field tile lines, compromising the future use of those important engineered drainage systems.
Summit claims that its operation is an attempt to improve the carbon intensity (CI) score for area ethanol plants. The financial plan is to obtain upwards of $50/ton in federal tax credits, resulting in millions of federal dollars flowing to Summit coffers. Summit is a tax write-off scheme by rich investors racing against a clock because the tax credit program maybe short-lived.
Ethanol plants claim their participation is based on obtaining a lower CI score and entering a more profitable West Coast market. Why is Broin companies which is the largest ethanol producer in the U.S. not signing up their plants under the Summit umbrella? Most local ethanol plants are owned by farmers. The Summit line will cross land owned by farmers. Many of these farmland owners are opposed to this pipeline. In Iowa as of late February, only 2% of the affected landowners have signed voluntary easements. We don’t need farmers pirating onto land owned by fellow farmers in a get-rich grab. Summit has not ruled out eminent domain to construct their route. Private property rights should matter. Infringement should not be allowed. Allowing such creates mistrust and division in rural communities.
Dakota Ethanol recently announced a Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) in conjunction with ACE, SD Corn and SDSU. This new program will research farming methods, new and existing, that will reduce carbon scores associated with raising corn. RCPP will hopefully be a foundation for a lower CI score associated with local ethanol. Why then is Dakota Ethanol partnering in a get-rich scheme with Summit, a consortium of rich investors? Would not a better approach be a doubling down on measures learned from RCPP?
Let’s work together so all farmers can do a better job farming. Let’s make the land we farm through diversity the carbon sink, not underground geological formations. Summit is another example of “privatizing the profits, socialize the risk.” Farming in an environmentally conservative manner allows the land to be the true carbon sink.