PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Top Navigator officials have reversed themselves and decided to let the public see a plume map showing potential effects from a rupture along the proposed route of the carbon-dioxide pipeline the company wants to build in southeastern South Dakota.
The state Public Utilities Commission on Thursday directed that the map be allowed as evidence and declared that it should be a public document, but also cautioned that it’s not yet accurate. The map shows the effects along the entire South Dakota portion of the route.
Commissioner Chris Nelson said the company must prepare and deliver a more-detailed map. “At that point, it should be released to the public,” he said.
The commission will decide on September 6 whether to grant a permit.
Commission chair Kristie Fiegen said the map that was offered Thursday presented only a partial picture of the possible effects. “It may not be the worst-case scenario. It isn’t,” she said.
Commissioner Gary Hanson favored releasing the map. He said people were “very leery” of the possible damage in the event of a rupture. “I think the more knowledge folks have, the better,” he said. He said that people would see the effects might not reach as far as many fear.
“There’s a whole lot more data that will be added to this,” Nelson said. He said the map shows that the effects wouldn’t stretch for “miles and miles and miles.”
Testifying for Navigator was Monica Howard, the company’s regulatory and environment vice president. She said the map was the visual representation of a lot of scientific information. Normally, she said, the information shown on the map was kept confidential for security reasons. “Creating them for public consumption is brand new to me,” she said.
The decision to offer to publicly release the map, if the commission directed it, was made at the company’s top level, Howard said.
Fiegen said the map didn’t reflect many variables. “I don’t want the public to have the wrong information, because we didn’t get all the information in your plume study,” Fiegen told Howard. “I guess that’s more of a comment than a question.”
The commission will decide either today or Friday whether to override pipeline zoning ordinances passed for Minnehaha and Moody counties. Navigator says the project can’t proceed if those ordinances stay in place.