FORT PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Daniel and Jillane Paulson testified Friday that the carbon-dioxide pipeline Navigator wants to build across their farm is already hurting them and their children.

The Paulsons are among hundreds of South Dakota landowners whose properties Navigator wants to cross in parts of Minnehaha, Lincoln, Turner, Moody and Brookings counties, as part of a five-state network. With their two daughters and son looking on, the husband and then the wife told the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission that Navigator shouldn’t receive a state permit.

Daniel Paulson said the pipeline would be less than three-tenths of a mile from the family’s home three miles south of Harrisburg. He expressed fear for their and the community’s safety. He estimated that his family would have at most 60 seconds to react if the line ruptured nearby.

Another reason Daniel Paulson doesn’t want the line is its financial dependence on access to landowners’ properties and on federal tax credits. “It’s a transfer of wealth out of our pockets into the pockets of Navigator,” he said.

Commissioners Chris Nelson and Gary Hanson noted the presence of the couple’s youngsters sitting in the front row of the audience area. “Your wife and you have some very fine children,” Hanson said.

After Daniel Paulson finished, Jillane Paulson took the witness chair. That brought an objection from William Taylor, a Sioux Falls lawyer who represents several labor unions that would provide workers to build the line.

Taylor argued that the Paulsons had signed a joint pre-filed statement and therefore Jillane Paulson shouldn’t testify, because her comments would duplicate what her husband had said.

Hearing officer Adam de Hueck overruled Taylor’s objection. Commissioner Nelson sought to override de Hueck’s ruling and sustain the objection; that would have meant Jillance Paulson couldn’t speak. But commissioner Hanson and the commission’s chairwoman, Kristie Fiegen, declined to side with Nelson.

Nelson then observed that the commission had consistently been giving more than normal leeway to witnesses for both Navigator and the opposition landowners by letting them testify, including several at some length, to information already in their pre-filed testimonies.

Jillane Paulson gave the commission examples of how the Navigator project could affect or has already reshaped the family’s lives. She spoke of attending three local meetings. The children are home-schooled, she said, and, as their mother and teacher, the potential of a crippling or deadly threat from a line break would be on her mind.

Earlier this week, the oldest Paulson daughter missed a local livestock show, because the family needed to travel to the pipeline hearing, Jillane Paulson said. The daughter had planned to enter her goat. Jillane Paulson said her daughter had won $200 at last year’s show and used the money to buy materials to make goods that were then offered for sale at the Brandon farmer’s market.

The Paulsons are part of a church network that has members who sometimes stay with the Paulsons. If the pipeline does get built across the family’s property, Jillane Paulson said she would feel a responsibility to tell their guests about it. If they didn’t want to stay, she said, she would understand, because she wouldn’t want to stay, either, if she was in their shoes.  

Daniel Paulson wondered why Navigator chose a route that, by 2060, would run through Harrisburg, if the city boundaries continue expanding as local officials expect. “There’s just way too many people where they want to place this pipeline,” he said.

The hearing continues Saturday with a ninth day of witnesses’ testimonies at the Casey Tibbs South Dakota Rodeo Center.