Aug. 29—PIERRE, S.D. — As the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission gears up for yet another lengthy set of hearings on a carbon sequestration pipeline, landowner opposition cycles through its playbook in halting the application from moving forward.
Brian Jorde, representing landowners in opposition to the Summit Carbon Solutions' application, said at a PUC meeting on Aug. 29 in Pierre that Summit does not yet have an application guaranteed granted to pass through South Dakota into North Dakota, and since Summit is currently awaiting a reconsideration of their application with North Dakota's Public Service Commission, which has similar authority to South Dakota's PUC, it might be too early to act on the application before the North Dakota re-application is considered.
"Unfortunately you can't reconsider something that was never considered," Jorde said. "We believe if they intend to move forward they will have to start over which will be a six, seven, or more months process."
Brett Koenecke, of May, Adam, Gerdes & Thompson LLP, representing Summit Carbon Solutions at the meeting, said there is nothing indicating the North Dakota PSC will about-face by denying the company's application.
"This smacks of some kind of hail-mary attempt to derail the proceedings here in this state," Koenecke said of Jorde's argument.
PUC staff advised the commissioners that they were not required to grant or deny Jorde's motion, and whether the North Dakota PSC granted or denied the renewed application from Summit would not necessarily impact the decision from the PUC.
Jorde made a request for times certain for witnesses to stand to testify on several days in mid-September, and emphasized that it was important those times certain are set soon to give those witnesses ample time to prepare.
"We're going to have a lot of people," Jorde said. "My attempts are to be as efficient as possible so we don't have downtime in what might be a compressed docket."
Koenecke said it was confusing to keep adding new witnesses "here and there."
"I was sometimes astounded by the pace of the play up here," Koenecke said.
Commissioner Nelson said he appreciated Jorde's interest in wanting to avoid downtime during the hearing, but at the same time there were still other witnesses to testify before his witnesses and after the applicants.
The landowner witnesses, Jorde said, are driving and flying from long distances and it would be prescient of the commission to grant those witnesses to avoid a stall in the hearing.
"If I don't get some dates certain then there would be a lot of downtime," Jorde said.
Jorde said he knows he's going last, but he doesn't know when "last" is. The commissioners were open to that, they said, as long as expert witnesses are coming forward first.
Jorde said the length of the testimony, from expert and non-expert witnesses, will also largely depend on the amount of time the applicants, and the Commission staff, spend cross examining those witnesses.
The application hearings for Summit Carbon Solutions are scheduled to begin mid-September.