PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Navigator’s proposed carbon-dioxide pipeline would move ahead even without federal tax credits, an executive vice president and chief commercial officer for the company said Tuesday.

Laura McGlothlin told the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission that Navigator has been in contact with various commercial users of CO2 and has started planning for an off-loading site.

Navigator also has a memorandum of understanding to supply CO2 to an electro-fuels company, Infinium, according to McGlothlin, and is considering adding a site where walk-up shippers could load CO2 into the system.

Tuesday marked the tenth day that the state commission has taken testimony in the matter. The three commissioners are deciding whether to grant a permit to Navigator for the portion of the line that the company wants to build in South Dakota, where three ethanol plants have contracted to be part of the project.

The commission originally granted confidential status to Navigator’s contracts with Valero for its ethanol plant at Aurora and POET’s plants at Chancellor and at Hudson. As she testified about various terms of those contracts, such as their 12-year duration and options to renew, McGlothlin said it was “fine to remove the confidentiality.”

“It will be admitted, and public,” said the commission’s hearing officer, Adam de Hueck. Navigator also has now posted for public consideration its draft emergency-response plan, which previously had received confidential treatment, too. Still under wraps, however, is the company’s plume-dispersion analysis of what damage could occur if the pipeline ruptured.

”CO2 is a commodity that is bought and sold everyday,” McGlothlin said about the current market. She said CO2 is used for carbonation, dry ice, food preparation and fire extinguishers. She acknowledged that food and beverage companies would require the CO2 to be purer than what Navigator would receive from the ethanol plants, and therefore additional equipment would have to be installed.

Navigator’s pipeline would collect CO2 from various ethanol producers and other agricultural facilities along its proposed route through South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and Illinois. The CO2 would be shipped to a site in central Illinois.

A second CO2 line is also seeking a permit to build and operate in South Dakota. The state commission will consider the application from Summit Carbon Solutions at a hearing set to start September 11. The Summit project would ship CO2 to a site in North Dakota.

One of the Summit project’s contract attorneys, Brett Koenecke of Pierre, was in the hearing room Tuesday for a portion of the Navigator testimony.

A key to whether Navigator goes forward in South Dakota is whether the state commission decides to pre-empt local ordinances regarding pipelines in Minnehaha County and Moody County. Navigator officials want the state commission to supersede the county ordinances because the line otherwise couldn’t get through. The state commission has scheduled a hearing for August 24-25 to hear arguments.

State law gives the state commission in most instances one year from the date of a company’s application to decide whether to grant a permit. Navigator applied September 27, 2022.

McGlothlin wouldn’t agree with a statement from Brian Jorde, one of the attorneys representing landowners opposed to the project, that the pipeline depended on the federal tax credits. McGlothlin said the ethanol companies have the rights to collect the tax credit and Navigator charges them a fee to run CO2 through the line.

“Customers have come to us with significant interest in the project,” McGlothlin said. In response to another Jorde question, she acknowledged she didn’t know whether POET and Valero independently had the infrastructure to get ethanol to California, where new climate-change laws are creating demand for fuels with lower carbon-intensity ratings.

Commission chair Kristie Fiegen asked how the pipeline would be affected by California’s requirement that new vehicles sold there be zero-emission by 2035. “If 100 percent of electric vehicles happen, I think that (ethanol) fuel will find its way to other markets,” McGlothlin said.