FORT PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — An outside consultant gave the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission on Thursday a variety of ideas about conditions that could be placed on a permit being considered for Navigator’s proposed carbon-dioxide pipeline.
Brian Sterner, a biologist with Environmental Resources Management, testified as a witness for the commission’s staff. He suggested requiring a third-party environmental inspector, placing wet-weather requirements on the project, providing training to contractors so that soil compaction can be avoided, and monitoring ag production along the route.
Other recommendations from Sterner included stockpiling materials such as seeding for revegetation, installing silt fencing and immediately addressing any ruts or rills that result from installing the line. “It can be a challenge to do that. Once soils start to erode, you’re always chasing it back up the hill,” he said.
Commission chair Kristie Fiegen asked Sterner whether he was bothered that Navigator didn’t fulfill all of the data requests that commission staff made to the company. “The more information you have to make a conclusion, and the statements that we’ve provided, definitely helps to have that,” Sterner said.
As an example, Sterner said the pipeline’s design can’t be finished until the soil analysis is done. He said there wasn’t a complete drainage plan. Navigator hasn’t yet addressed how contractors should deal with wildlife or livestock that wander into the trenching needed to lay the line.
Sterner acknowledged that he’s not a soil scientist but described himself as an expert in soil biology. “I just don’t have those credentials as a soil scientist behind my name,” he said.