‘Have you ever heard of a private company using eminent domain to take property?’

A climate corporation is trying to gain access to dozens of private properties in South Dakota against their owners’ consent so it can build a “carbon capture” pipeline.

Summit Carbon Solutions intends for the pipeline, which will cross five states in the Midwest, to “capture” carbon dioxide before it is released into the atmosphere and store it underground in South Dakota. The $4.5 billion pipeline will be built across Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and North Dakota as well.

However, the company has been running into some resistance, particularly in South Dakota where landowners tried refusing the corporation access to conduct initial surveys. The surveys involve drilling holes into the ground, 3–12 inches in diameter and up to 200 feet deep, which can adversely affect crops.

In response to their refusal, Summit sued over 80 landowners to gain forced access to their properties. The company’s lawyers have also threatened the farmers with eminent domain — forced land expropriation — if they do not agree to sell the company easements on their properties.

A judge granted Summit its request to conduct surveys on lands without the property owners’ consent provided that the company serve 30 days notice, according to The Fence Post. Landowners are now fighting the corporation in court, though for some it may be too late.

Farmer Jared Bossly says that Summit surveyors already conducted a survey on his land without his permission, damaging his corn and soybean crops. If the company manages to win a case against him for eminent domain, its pipeline would cut across his land, removing the windbreaker line of trees protecting his cattle as well as the topsoil that helps crop growth.

“This is a private company. Have you ever heard of a private company using eminent domain to take property?” Bossly asked.

South Dakota State Representative Jon Hansen uploaded photos to social media showing Summit equipment and armed security personnel allegedly on private land without authorization.

“This is the current scene on private property in South Dakota: an out-of-state, for-profit corporation with armed patrol intruding on property without the landowner’s consent to lay a carbon sequestration pipeline that the landowner doesn’t want. This is not freedom,” tweeted Hansen.

On Thursday, 250 landowners, lawmakers, and other stakeholders gathered in South Dakota’s State Capitol to demand Governor Kristi Noem call a special legislative session.

“This is going to set precedents,” Rep. Oren Lesmeister told the crowd. “And if we don’t stop this now, what’s that going to mean for eminent domain for private gain in the future?”

After the rally, Bossly and two state legislators delivered a petition signed by 2,000 South Dakotans for Governor Noem to call a special session.

Noem, who has vocalized support for the farmers, did not do so.

“I always honor my oath to the Constitution, and the law is the law,” tweeted Noem. “If the legislature wants to call themselves into special session to change the law, I look forward to reviewing what they send to my desk.”

From frontline.news

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