CANTON, S.D. — The Lincoln County Commission has pressed pause on yet another CO2 pipeline ordinance as a majority of commissioners say they need more time to consider the multiple proposals circulating throughout the county.
The proposal comes from Commissioner Joel Arends, who spent roughly six weeks speaking with county staff and pipeline officials.
Arends said that during those conversations, Summit Carbon Solutions made a series of concessions that he believes are beneficial to residents.
“We’ve settled on a 500-foot setback from habitative props as well as a … one mile setback from any municipalities, regardless of size,” Arends said. “[Additionally,] they have agreed here in Lincoln County to move their pipeline route back south by two miles.”
The shift to the south, Arends explained, was a result of his push for giving municipalities near the pipeline more room to grow, and called it a “major” concession.
“Essentially, it’s a multi-million dollar concession, because all of the money they gave to pay for easements is going to remain with those people who purchased the easements,” he said, “and they’re going to have to purchase new easements on those lands [to the south].”
Summit — who is working to reapply for a permit after it was first denied in September by the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission — also committed to a million-dollar grant program to provide first responders along the pipeline’s route with extra training. Arends said 35-40% of that would be delivered as soon as possible, with the remainder upon permitting.
“In terms of major concessions, I do believe that the pipeline now has got the message,” Arends said confidently, “and they’re starting to work with local communities in terms of what’s going to have to be done in order to bring the pipeline through.”
A ‘rush to judgment’
The proposal from Arends sought to send the ordinance to the Lincoln County Planning Commission with a do-pass recommendation from the county board.
Lincoln County Commission Chair Tiffani Landeen and fellow Commissioner Jim Schmidt took issue with Arends’ proposal — not necessarily for its merit, but rather for its timing.
“This came on the agenda really late on Friday on a holiday weekend. I’m confident in saying I don’t think the other commissioners have had a chance to look at any of these proposals in any depth,” Landeen said. “I don’t think we’re at a point to make a recommendation, and I certainly don’t want [the Planning Commission] to get the impression that the commission as a whole would be endorsing this particular ordinance.”
As Landeen entertained a motion to table, Arends suggested a 30-day table to put the proposal on the Planning Commission’s agenda for its November meeting. That’s where Schmidt chimed in.
“Commissioner Arends, I’ll commend you for your activity and your digging into this. I don’t understand why we want to rush to judgment on this thing,” Schmidt said. “As our chair has said, there’s probably three competing ordinances that have been considered out there.”
Those other proposals, most of which are citizen-driven, call for larger setbacks of 1,300 or 1,800 feet, Schmidt said, advocating for more time to review and publicly discuss all options.
“I don’t have any heartburn if we waited until the first of the year — until we’ve had time to publicly discuss this thing in an open forum where people can put their input,” Schmidt said.
Arends contended that it’s time to address the pipeline questions that have been circulating for some time.
“This thing’s been percolating now for a year. You don’t need another year, being a little facetious of course,” Arends, a lawyer, said. “I think you just need to cowboy up and say we’re gonna do it, put our big boy pants on, and put it to the people in [planning and zoning] and do it in November.”
“You’re well spoken, counselor, but there’s no way in my interpretation that we were not going to come up with some kind of ordinance. We will have an ordinance, we will have that,” Schmidt replied. “If it takes 30 or 60 days, fine.”
During a period of public comment, roughly a dozen members of the public spoke on the agenda item, most of whom thanked the commission for considering a table of the ordinance.
Ultimately, the commission voted 4-0, including Arends, to table the pipeline ordinance for a period of 60 days. Commissioner Michael Poppens recused himself from discussion as well as the vote.
Ordinances are already in place in Minnehaha County.
A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021 and now works as a digital reporter for Sioux Falls Live, with a primary focus on crime in Sioux Falls and government in Lincoln County.
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