Pipeline Bill Passes in the House

The South Dakota State House voted 40-30 to advance SB 201, a bill which sets the framework by which the Summit Carbon Solutions project can move forward in the state.

Touted by leadership as a compromise measure between anti- and pro-pipeline proponents, the bill would make substantial changes to the way the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) permits “linear projects” in the future.  House Majority Leader and one of the bills prime sponsors, Will Mortenson.

The measure, which has undertaken a series of changes since its initial filing late last month, now aims to substantially change the way the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) permits pipeline projects. Specifically, it calls for the PUC to be able override – or preempt – more burdensome county-level restrictions like how far pipelines have to be from certain land uses like buildings, residences or schools.

Right now, PUC makes permitting decisions separate from the ones on overriding local government-level regulations, which factored into commissioner’s rejection of Summit’s initial permit application last year. Additionally, SB 201 would codify a standard where federal

regulations trump county ordinances. Proponents of the measure point to the threat of federal litigation that’s likely without that provision in state law.

But those amendments, made at various points throughout the legislative process, were part of the reason why opponents argued the bill “wasn’t ready for prime time.”   Representative Liz May.

But those changes to the bill — it initially proposed a blanket preemption of counties — has garnered support from enough House lawmakers who remain skeptical of the carbon pipeline project.

Another modification allowing counties to collect a $1 surcharge for every foot of pipeline running through their jurisdictions also helped get SB 201 through.  Representative Roger Chase a former county commissioner can help counties financially


Because the bill passed out of the Senate and the House in different forms, the Senate will concur in the amendments or appoint a conference committee, where the bill can be reformed into a more agreeable form. Senate leadership indicated to the South Dakota Broadcasters Association that they intend to appoint a conference committee today.