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Summit Carbon Solutions says drain tile is main landowner concern raised as company hosts Minnesota meetings

Summit Carbon Solutions has hosted six open house meetings in Minnesota for landowners along the proposed route of a pipeline to carry carbon dioxide. The No. 1 message from those meetings has been concern about drain tiles, company officials told the Yellow Medicine County Board of Commissioners.

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The proposed route of the Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline in Yellow Medicine County is nearly 14 miles. The $4.5 billion project overall is proposed to carry carbon dioxide from ethanol plants in five Midwestern states to North Dakota. The route to reach the Granite Falls Energy ethanol plant, shown in blue, includes 8.81 miles of pipeline in Renville County and 26.2 miles in Redwood County.
Summit Carbon Solutions graphic
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GRANITE FALLS, Minn. — Summit Carbon Solutions is now six meetings into its campaign to reach agreements with landowners along its proposed pipeline route in Minnesota.

One issue has dominated all others: “The message we got loud and clear is drain tile, drain tile, drain tile,” said Joe Caruso, public affairs and outreach director in Minnesota for the company.

He and other Summit Carbon Solutions representatives addressed the Yellow Medicine County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday to discuss the proposed line. The pipeline is projected to run 13.96 miles in Yellow Medicine County and carry carbon dioxide from the Granite Falls Energy ethanol plant. The pipeline route in that vicinity also includes 8.81 miles in Renville County and 26.2 miles in Redwood County.

Caruso and Chris Hill, senior project adviser, said the company has hosted open house-style meetings in Minnesota during the first week of April in Heron Lake, Windom, Sacred Heart, Redwood Falls, Granite Falls and Fergus Falls.

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Chris Hill with Summit Carbon Solutions addresses landowners attending an open house hosted by the company on April 7, 2022, in Sacred Heart.
Tom Cherveny / West Central Tribune file photo

Overall, the $4.5 billion project is proposed to carry carbon dioxide from more than 30 ethanol plants in five Midwestern states to North Dakota.

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The Minnesota portion of the project originally included 154 miles of pipeline, but that will be increased by an estimated 50 miles with the recent addition to the project of the Bushmills Ethanol plant of Atwater The pipeline to serve the Bushmills plant will be connected to the line serving the Granite Falls Energy plant and will require a pumping station, according to the company representatives.

The network will be able to carry 12 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year from throughout the Midwest for sequestration underground in North Dakota. About 75% of the capacity is currently contracted for, according to Caruso.

He told the Yellow Medicine County Board that company officials heard similar themes at the six landowner meetings. Caruso said the meetings made it apparent that the company has not done a good job of explaining the “who and why of the project.”

“We’ve done the when and how and the what, but not the who and why,” he told the commissioners.

He said the meetings also made it apparent that there is a lot of misinformation about property rights. The company does not have the power of eminent domain. It is seeking voluntary easements along the pipeline route in Minnesota.

“One hundred percent voluntary easements, we’re focused on getting those,” said Hill.

The company representatives also heard questions about agricultural impacts and operational safety at the meetings.

Caruso said the company is seeking a 50-foot permanent easement from landowners along the route and a 50-foot temporary easement for construction. The soil must be restored to its pre-construction quality and productivity, and agreements with landowners will include payments for soil degradation caused by the construction.

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The company will assume perpetual liability for any drain tile damage that should occur, they told the commissioners.

Caruso said that as a result of the meetings, the company will be working to increase communication with county governments and landowners in the affected areas. It intends to provide quarterly updates to the commissioners.

He said the feedback the company has received from county commissioners to this point has been to encourage more communication.

Commissioner Gary Johnson told the representatives that he had attended the company’s meeting in Granite Falls and felt that his questions had been answered. He said he felt that the company has been doing a better job of being open and willing to work with the public.

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoors reporter for the West Central Tribune.
He has been a reporter with the West Central Tribune since 1993.

Cherveny can be reached via email at tcherveny@wctrib.com or by phone at 320-214-4335.
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