Note: This story has been updated with Governor Noem’s appointment to the PUC for the proposed CO2 project.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — One of three public officials who will evaluate the fate of a proposed carbon dioxide pipeline has said she can’t be part of the decision process.

Kristie Fiegen, a state Public Utilities Commissioner, said in a Feb. 9 letter to Gov. Kristi Noem “the proposed pipelines would cross land owned by my sister-in-law (my husband’s sister) and her husband,” according to a copy of the letter on the PUC website. Fiegen said she had disqualified herself from the process because of the conflict of interest based on state law.

Ian Fury of Gov. Noem’s office said she will appoint State Treasurer Josh Haeder to replace Fiegen in regards to consideration of the proposed Summit Carbon Solutions CO2 pipeline.

Summit Carbon Solutions has proposed a 2,000-mile CO2 pipeline that will travel across several states including about 469 miles in South Dakota.

PUC material said the estimated cost for the South Dakota portion of the project is estimated by the applicant to be $785 million.

The Feb. 9 letter said Fiegen had removed herself in 2016 from the Dakota Access Pipeline process because of a similar conflict of interest.

Fiegen asked Noem to replace with an elected constitutional officer but not the state Attorney General.

The proposed Summit CO2 pipeline would capture carbon at several ethanol plants on its routes for burial, or sequestering, at a site in North Dakota. Captured CO2 would mean ethanol plants would reduce their carbon emissions to reduce their carbon footprint. It would better allow plants to sell ethanol in more carbon restrictive states such as California, Summit officials have said. The pipelines would improve the profitability of ethanol plants and help rural economics, Summit officials have said.

Opponents question the technology and safety of pipelines and are concerned a private developer will benefit from public tax and credit programs.

Those with questions have also said private developers could gain millions of dollars while property owners on the routes would get little in comparison.

The PUC will discuss a filing fee for the applicant at the Feb. 18 meeting, according to the agenda posted on the PUC website.

The PUC will consider an application fee not to exceed $592,500 with a possible initial deposit of $8,000.

The fee covers the “actual cost of investigating, reviewing, processing, and serving Notice of the Application,” the agenda said. 

The maximum amount of $592,500 is calculated based on a state law.

The Summit CO2 pipeline is one of two that would travel across South Dakota and parts of Iowa and Minnesota.

Navigator has proposed a roughly 1,300 mile-CO2 pipeline that covers several states.

The Summit pipeline would cross Beadle, Brown, Clark, Codington, Edmunds, Hamlin, Hand, Hyde, Kingsbury, Lake, Lincoln, McCook, McPherson, Minnehaha, Miner, Spink, Sully and Turner counties, according to the PUC. Proposed pump stations would be located in Kingsbury, Minnehaha and Spink counties.

The PUC has scheduled five public meetings on Summit’s proposed CO2 pipeline: The schedule is:

5:30 p.m. CT Tuesday, March 22 at Sully Buttes High School Gymnasium, 500 S. 8th St., Onida

5:30 p.m. CT Wednesday, March 23 at Washington Room, Ramkota Conference Center, 3200 W. Maple St., Sioux Falls

Noon CT Thursday, March 24, at De Smet Event Center, 705 Wilder Lane, De Smet

5:30 p.m. CT, Thursday, March 24 at Redfield School Auditorium, 111 E. 6th Avenue, Redfield, South Dakota

Noon CT, Friday, March 25 at Northern Room, Ramkota Hotel, 1400 8th Av. N.W. Aberdeen.

The PUC said the purpose of the meetings is hear public comments about the permit application and the proposed project, according to the PUC website. The applicant will be at the meetings to present a brief description of the project.