SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Twenty-four state Representatives and three Senators are asking the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission to take an action it apparently has not done for some time.
The 27 lawmakers have requested the PUC require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIS) as part of the permitting process for any carbon dioxide sequestration pipeline. Summit Carbon Solutions and Navigator have applied to the PUC for permits to install sections of CO2 pipelines in the state.
“To my knowledge, the PUC has not done that (EIS requirement) in recent years, because the Commission’s review and the requirements found in the Administrative Rules, specifically ARSD 20:10:22, address the items that would generally be found in an EIS,” PUC staff attorney Kristen Edwards said in an email to KELOLAND News.
The July 16 letter from the lawmakers claims the size and nature of the two proposed CO2 pipelines will significantly disrupt many miles in the state. Disruption of native grasses, vegetation, soil makeup, groundwater, air quality and waterways is of high concern, the letter said.
An EIS would address those high concerns about disruption, according to the letter from the lawmakers.
Administrative rules 20:10:22 evaluates the site’s effect on the physical environment, on aquatic ecosystems and other areas. The rule also includes water quality such as “The applicant shall provide evidence that the proposed facility will comply with all water quality standards and regulations of any federal or state agency having jurisdiction and any variances permitted.”
An environmental requirement of rule 20:10:22 is “The applicant shall provide a description of the existing environment at the time of the submission of the application, estimates of changes in the existing environment which are anticipated to result from construction and operation of the proposed facility, and identification of irreversible changes which are anticipated to remain beyond the operating lifetime of the facility. The environmental effects shall be calculated to reveal and assess demonstrated or suspected hazards to the health and welfare of human, plant and animal communities which may be cumulative or synergistic consequences of siting the proposed facility in combination with any operating energy conversion facilities, existing or under construction. The applicant shall provide a list of other major industrial facilities under regulation which may have an adverse effect on the environment as a result of their construction or operation in the transmission site, wind energy site, or sitting area.”
Edwards said in her email response to KELOLAND News “As Commission Staff, our goal is always to conduct the most comprehensive, detailed review we can, regardless of whether an EIS is ordered. To date, we have received and reviewed thousands of pages of information in each pending pipeline docket.”
If the PUC were to require an EIS, “if such a request was voted on, that would need to be done at a noticed public meeting in order for them to weigh in,” Edwards said in her email to KELOLAND.
Representatives Brandei Schaefbauer, Phil Jensen, Aaron Aylward, Kevin Jensen, Jon Hansen, Liz May, Bethany Soye, Tina Mullaly, Carl Perry, Scott Moore, Randy Gross, John Sjaarda, Karla Lems, Ben Krohmer, Julie Auch, Marty Overweg, Fred Deutsch, Neil Pinnow, Eric Emery, Joe Donnell, Scott Odenbach, John Mills, Tony Randolph and Oren Lesmeister and Senators Tom Pischke, Julie Frye-Mueller and Al Novstrup are the names listed on the July 16 letter to the PUC.
The Commission has the authority to prepare or require an EIS pursuant to SDCL 49-41B-21. , Edwards said in the email.