In an historic decision, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously yesterday to uphold county ordinances related to hazardous carbon dioxide pipelines and to deny Navigator’s CO2 pipeline permit application. The decision was based upon the company’s failure to convincingly meet the burdens of proof set forth in the permitting requirements. In this surprising victory for rural South Dakotan’s fighting against a billion-dollar company, Dakota Rural Action applauds the decisions as a testament to the power and efficacy of local citizens organizing to protect their communities and lands, and to the value and importance of local control in government processes.

According to the Public Utilities Commissioners, the rejected pipeline application lacked comprehensive details and thorough documentation for critical details such as accurate and timely plume modeling and emergency response plans. The commissioners also highlighted the negative impacts on the health and wellbeing on the citizens crossed by and in close proximity to the pipeline route. The Commission also ruled that Navigator failed to show a willingness or ability to comply with all local, state, and federal regulations as evidenced by their attempted evasion of local ordinances which were passed in Moody and Minnehaha Counties.

“Dakota Rural Action is thankful for the hard work done by our allies, members and organizers in bringing the grassroots together to make sure the PUC heard the message that CO2 pipelines are corporations exploiting citizens and local governments,” said Paula Antoine and Stacy Roberts, co-chairs of Dakota Rural Action.

Dakota Rural Action has been engaged in a multi-year campaign to ensure that the potential safety, environmental, and economic consequences of the project are thoroughly vetted and that the voices of impacted citizens are at the forefront of permitting decisions. We celebrate the decision that came down from the PUC, noting the time and effort each commissioner invested in reviewing the application and testimony.

“I am thankful to Dakota Rural Action for supporting citizens and landowners in the CO2 pipeline battle. Their help was instrumental in this latest victory!” said impacted landowner and DRA member Bev Nelson.

The Summit Carbon Solutions PUC permit hearings will begin next week and run for three weeks.