SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission is deciding whether the Navigator carbon dioxide pipeline can move forward in the state.

The hearing is underway to decide whether to issue a permit for Navigator to build and operate the pipeline. As of last week a final route hasn’t been selected, but preliminary plans show it going through a handful of eastern South Dakota counties; the CO2 would eventually end up in central Illinois.

KELOLAND’s Bob Mercer has been covering the PUC’s hearing.

In recent days, they’ve heard from Navigator officials along with the vice president of commercial operations for Valero Renewable Fuels, who said that the pipeline would help the company’s ethanol plants compete against producers from Brazil.

However, a state legislator was the first of more than a half-dozen landowners who told the commission why they don’t want the pipeline to be permitted anywhere in the state.

“The biggest thing hasn’t been decided yet, and that is there’s going to be a preemption hearing on August 24th and 25th,” Mercer said Monday. “Navigator wants the public utilities commission to preempt ordinances that were passed by Minnehaha County and Moody County, and what those ordinances would do is basically prevent the pipeline from going through either county, according to the company.”

The Public Utilities Commission consists of three elected officials. For the proposed carbon dioxide pipeline to be approved, at least two commissioners would have to support it.

“It sounds like all three of them have some sincere doubts about the project, but they also have some sincere doubts about the positions of the landowners, too,” Mercer said.

State law requires that the state commission reach a decision within one year after receiving a permit application. Navigator filed its application on September 27 of last year.

The hearing will continue Tuesday, August 8, at 9:30 a.m. in the state Capitol.

Find complete coverage of the hearings on the Capitol News Bureau page.