Press "Enter" to skip to content

Summit Carbon Solutions Launching Eminent Domain Against South Dakota Landowners

The firm Republican belief in property rights has not stopped the rich Iowa Republicans behind Summit Carbon Solutions from going to court to seize the property rights of more than 80 South Dakota lawndowners through eminent domain for their proposed private carbon dioxide pipeline. Lawyer Brian Jorde, who’s been working with farmers to fight Summit’s pipeline predations, says there are more eminent domain lawsuits to come:

Summit has initiated more than 80 lawsuits against landowners in Beadle, Brown, Codington, Edmunds, Hand, Kingsbury, Lake, McPherson and Spink counties, court records show. The majority of the pending cases were brought on April 24.

…Brian Jorde, a lawyer with Nebraska-based Domina Law Group, told the Argus Leader on Monday he predicts this is only the first batch of filings.

“It’s significant in that it shows how unpopular this project is and how poor this company has handled itself in dealing with people. And it is a significant amount that will, no doubt, be growing, not shrinking,” Jorde said [Dominik Dausch, “Summit Files More Than 80 Eminent Domain Lawsuits in 9 South Dakota Counties,” Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 2023.05.01].

Summit spokespeople squawk that they have to use eminent domain:

John Satterfield, regulatory affairs director with Summit Carbon Solutions, said eminent domain has to be on the table; otherwise, no pipeline of any kind would ever get built.

“The expectation that people want to invest in a project like ours, without that tool available, is a misunderstanding of the business,” he said.

Elizabeth Burns Thompson, vice president of government and public affairs with the Heartland Greenway pipeline, said eminent domain is a last resort. Heartland Greenway has yet to leverage eminent domain.

“It does not save us as a company time or money,” she said, “and it does not make us any friends. It’s only for sheer business purposes at its core” [Joshua Haiar, “‘It’s About Property Rights’: Some Farmers Resent Ethanol Industry’s Push for Carbon Pipelines,” South Dakota Searchlight, 2023.05.05].

But Brown County farmer Craig Schaunaman, who’s suing to keep Summit off his land, says Summit shouldn’t get to co-opt a government power usually reserved for genuinely public projects:

Schaunaman said a carbon-capture pipeline differs from other projects that have used eminent domain, like electrical power lines and water and oil pipelines.

“First of all, let’s get back to what eminent domain should be used for: infrastructure that benefits the public,” Schaunaman said. “Sure, a pipeline ‘of this nature’ would never get built, because it’s not for public use” [Haiar, 2023.05.05].

Actually, Craig, I’d lump the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines in with the proposed carbon dioxide pipelines: these projects are for private profit, for companies not based in South Dakota. Summit Carbon Solutions and other proposing to build private, for-profit pipelines across South Dakota should have to negotiate a fair market price for access to the land to ensure that South Dakota landowners get their fair share of the profits. If Summit’s project can’t generate enough revenue to pay landowners for the sacrifice of their property rights and the ongoing risk they incur from having hazardous materials transported across their land, then Summit shouldn’t get to build their project.


  1. O 2023-05-08 08:01

    First, there is no such thing as a “firm Republican belief.” Ethics are switched on and off as the situation arises. Second, the closest there is to a firm Republican belief now is that the one that has the most money gets what he wants.

  2. P. Aitch 2023-05-08 08:40

    Allowing private businesses to use eminent domain to obtain land from citizens can be harmful for a number of reasons:

    1. Violation of property rights: Eminent domain allows the government to take private property for public use, but using it for the benefit of private companies violates property rights that are a cornerstone of the American legal system.

    2. Lack of accountability: Private companies are not accountable to the public in the same way that government agencies are. They may not be transparent in their decisions and may not have the same obligation to consider the public interest.

    3. Unequal bargaining power: Private companies have more resources than individual citizens, enabling them to exert undue influence and negotiate unfair deals. This can lead to property owners being forced to sell their land for less than its fair market value.

    4. Displacement of people and communities: Using eminent domain to take land from citizens can displace people and communities, disrupting their lives and social networks. This can cause emotional and economic distress, especially for vulnerable populations like low-income families and people of color.

    For these reasons and others, many people believe that private businesses should not be allowed to use eminent domain to obtain land from citizens.

  3. Arlo Blundt 2023-05-08 13:48

    You get what you vote for. What do the rural voters expect when they vote, election after election, for conservative “pro business” Republicans.

  4. Clyde 2023-05-08 14:52

    To start with I don’t believe that these CO2 make any sense for the environment and I doubt that many do. So that the country can continue to do business as normal we are allowing big business to pipe this CO2 to old oil fields and shove it underground. I and many others doubt it will stay there and if it does it will just aid in the extraction of more oil. Thought that was a big part of the problem.

    These pipelines will go right past thousands of CAFO hog and cattle feeding operations all pumping out as much methane as a small city. Methane is a far worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Don’t see much concern for that green house gas!

    Lots of pilot methane digesters have been built but making electric power and selling it back to a utility just will never quite pay!! Power interests wholesale cost that they offer seem to stay mighty low but the power I have to buy from them seems to just keep going up! Hmmmmmm……

  5. Jad 2023-05-08 18:01

    I agree with -Arlo. Why keep electing people who only do what party leaders tell them.

  6. Mark Anderson 2023-05-08 20:11

    Arlo is totally correct. You get what you vote for. Suck it up South Dakotans.

  7. John 2023-05-09 11:39

    Meanwhile . . . corporate democrats are busy making more reoublicans.
    Many, nah, most infrastructure projects in the Inflation Reduction Act are for privately held infrastucture. This is the opposite of FDR’s New Deal which used private contractors to build PUBLIC infrastructure.
    “The I.R.A. will help accelerate the growing private ownership of U.S. infrastructure and, in particular, its concentration among a handful of global asset managers like Brookfield. This is taking the United States into risky territory. The consequences for the public at large, whose well-being depends on the quality and cost of a host of infrastructure-based services, from energy to transportation, are unlikely to be positive.

    A common belief about both the I.R.A. and 2021’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, President Biden’s other key legislation for infrastructure investment, is that they represent a renewal of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal infrastructure programs of the 1930s. This is wrong. The signature feature of the New Deal was public ownership: Even as private firms carried out many of the tens of thousands of construction projects, almost all of the new infrastructure was funded and owned publicly. These were public works. Public ownership of major infrastructure has been an American mainstay ever since.”
    “Mr. Biden’s laws will radically overhaul this culture. Informed by what Brian Alexander, a writer for The Atlantic, in 2017 described as a profound recent change in philosophy among U.S. policymakers about “how to build and maintain America’s stuff,” the modus operandi of both statutes is principally to subsidize and catalyze private-sector infrastructure investment. Such a subsidy was explicitly factored into the aforementioned Brookfield investment in solar and wind power.

    So it would be truer to say that in political-economic terms, Mr. Biden, far from assuming Roosevelt’s mantle, has actually been dismantling the Rooseveltian legacy. The upshot will be a wholesale transformation of the national landscape of infrastructure ownership and associated service delivery.”
    maybe gift article, maybe paywall:

Comments are closed.