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Navigator Cancels CO2 Pipeline; Summit Plans to Drink Their Milkshake

Navigator CO2 Ventures ventures no more. After signaling retreat by withdrawing permit applications in Iowa and Illinois, the Omaha-based company yesterday said it is giving up on its carbon dioxide pipeline plan:

The development of Navigator CO2’s pipeline project has been challenging. Given the unpredictable nature of the regulatory and government processes involved, particularly in South Dakota and Iowa, the Company has decided to cancel its pipeline project.

Matt Vining, CEO of Navigator CO2 remarked, “As good stewards of capital and responsible managers of people, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the Heartland Greenway project. We are disappointed that we will not be able to provide services to our customers and thank them for their continued support.”

Vining continued, “I am proud that throughout this endeavor, our team maintained a collaborative, high integrity, and safety-first approach and we thank them for their tireless efforts. We also thank all the individuals, trade associations, labor organizations, landowners, and elected officials who supported us and carbon capture in the Midwest” [Navigator CO2 Ventures, press release, 2023.10.20].

Navigator said it would seize land for its pipeline by eminent domain as an “absolute last resort“, but it never actually filed any condemnation lawsuits or dug up any South Dakotans’ land. The pipelining bastards who did, Iowa-Republican-led Summit Carbon Solutions, who’ve been waging a top-level political campaign for their project from the start and who continue to turn the screws on local governments, say they stand ready to add all of Navigator’s greenhouse-gassing partners to an expanded version of their five-state pipeline:

In a statement to the Argus Leader, a Summit Carbon spokesperson said the company “is well positioned to add additional plants and communities to our project footprint.”

The statement means that Summit Carbon has enough “capacity” to incorporate “all of Navigator’s plants onto our line,” Summit Carbon spokesperson Sabrina Zenor told Argus Leader.

…Zenor acknowledged Summit Carbon stands to gain from Navigator’s canceled project, saying the business impact “might end up being positive for Summit’s bottom line.”

“In the long run … for the industry as a whole, it’s a good thing to have a lot of carbon capture and sequestration projects be successful,” Zenor said in a phone call. “This is not a good day for Navigator. … Certainly, they were a competitor, but in the industry of carbon capture and sequestration, you know, a rising tide really does raise all ships, and … it’s unfortunate” [Dominik Dausch, “Summit Carbon Stands to Benefit from Navigator’s Canceled Pipeline Project,” Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 2023.10.21].

The biggest prize on Navigator’s line is Poet Ethanol, which spurned Summit to sign with Navigator in 2022, suggesting that Navigator had the more “expertise” and a more “sophisticated” plan. If Summit can coax Poet to settle for second-best—or, now, only-best—they’ll add more heavy corporate weight to their pressure campaign.

Summit Carbon Solutions claims to have signed easements with nearly 75% of landowners along its proposed route. Navigator says it had obtained no easements but only options for easements, which will expire after a few years.

Navigator’s departure from the field may give some pipeline opponents relief, but the landowners who helped turn away Navigator may now find themselves fighting  bigger, badder Summit, which may now recruit more corporate partners to bring more pressure against property-rights advocates and local and state governments.


  1. P. Aitch 2023-10-21 12:25

    Do you see the end of ethanol? I do. A ten-year transition strategy shall soon begin. The widespread adoption of electric vehicles will significantly reduce the demand for biofuels. As battery technology improves, the reliance on liquid fuels will decline furthering the transition to energy independence.

  2. bearcreekbat 2023-10-21 13:20

    Cory writes: “Navigator said it would seize land for its pipeline by eminent domain as an “absolute last resort“, . . . ” In an earlier DFP story (I don’t have the link at hand) there was a short discussion about whether a private company like Navigator could use SD eminent domain law to take SD land that the owners refused to sell or lease. In one comment I described the ruling in Kelo, which held that the Constitution did not prevent the government from using eminent domain to take land and then transfer it to a private company. This discussion didn’t go any further.

    I recently found a site by an organization labeled Institute for Justice, however, that implies any threats by Navigator to use SD Eminent domain law “as a last resort” were simply hot air, even after the Kelo decision. The Institute for Justice states as follows:

    In 2006, the South Dakota Supreme Court was the first to reject Kelo. “Our state constitution provides its landowners more protection against a taking of their property than the United States Constitution,” the Court ruled in Benson v. State.

    That same year, South Dakota passed HB 1080, which prohibits government agencies from seizing private property by eminent domain “for transfer to any private person, nongovernmental entity, or other public-private business entity.” . . .,is%20not%20used%20for%20the

    If this assertion is accurate, and if there haven’t been any subsequent repeals or amendments to the 2006 law or State Constitution, then it appears no private company may use eminent domain law in SD to take land, nor could any SD governmental unit take the land to transfer it to a private company, such as an outfit seeking to build a pipeline. I am no expert in this area of the law – am I missing a new statute or some other development that negates the claims of the Institute for Justice?

  3. P. Aitch 2023-10-21 18:37

    Thanks, Bear. – I’ve filed that statute away in case the issue is hanging by a thread.

  4. grudznick 2023-10-22 08:29

    That law bill back in 2006 was written by none other than Mr. Rhoden and backed by every Rhoden Rhanger in the legislatures. But it does not block all government units. The state it’s own self can do land grabbing for transferring to other fellows, only the counties and municipalities may not.

  5. grudznick 2023-10-22 08:38

    This morning at the Conservatives with Common Sense breakfasting the Opening Rant will involve the rudderless congress and the debates shall highlight many of Mr. Rhoden’s vast accomplishments during his domination of the legislatures and how South Dakota is so much better than those federal fellows.

  6. e platypus onion 2023-10-22 08:39

    Back in March, iowa magats in the House passed a bill not allowing eminent domain to be used for carbon pipelines. magats in the senate refused to allow a hearing and thusly killed the bill for this session. magats are not our friends.

  7. bearcreekbat 2023-10-22 11:53

    The decision in the Benson case was based on the SD Constitution, not a State statute. To the extent that grudznick might be correct in the claim that under the 2006 statute,

    The state it’s own self can do land grabbing for transferring to other fellows, only the counties and municipalities may not,”

    the decision in Benson is based on the SD Constitution, which overrides and statutory inconsistency. The Court held that Kelo related to the definition of “public purspose” while SD had rejected that test and instead relies upon a test of “use by the public.”

    In its interpretation of article VI, section 13, this Court adopted the “use by the public test.” . . . . This definition requires that there be a “use or right of use on the part of the public or some limited portion of it[.] . . . [W]e did consider the alternate “public benefit” rule but opted for the “use by the public” rule. . . .

    Thus, our state constitution provides its landowners more protection against a taking of their property than the United States Constitution. (citations omitted)

    No State statute can empower the State to take land contrary to the above interpretation of the State Constitution, thus grudznick’s claim would have to be incorrect. The State cannot take land (“do land grabbing”) and transfer it to a private company for some “public purpose” any more than a county or municipality. In all cases the SD Constitution apparenty requires that any land taken by the State, county, or municipality would have to be for the “use of the the public” rather than for a “public purpose.”

  8. bearcreekbat 2023-10-22 11:55

    my apologies for the many typos

  9. grudznick 2023-10-22 13:26

    Mr. Rhoden does what Mr. Rhoden does. There is no stopping him. The statutes prevail until somebody gets it in the Court. Until then, Mr. Rhoden and all his Rhoden Rhangers would be thumbing their nose and going “blaaaahhhhhaaa” and “wunbawubbawubba.”

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