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Landowners voice concerns over carbon pipeline

Sarah McNaughton Attendees at the Burleigh County meeting hosted by North Dakota Farm Bureau
EDUCATE AND INFORM: The information shared at the Burleigh County meeting hosted by North Dakota Farm Bureau was standing-room only as local landowners asked attorneys about their legal rights over the proposed pipeline.
North Dakota Farm Bureau hosts informative event to guide landowners through legal steps around proposed pipeline.

North Dakota Farm Bureau sponsored a recent informative meeting regarding Summit Construction Solutions’ proposed carbon dioxide pipeline in the state. At the meeting, landowners were able to learn about their rights and voice their concerns over the pipeline.

NDFB President Daryl Lies kicked off the meeting in Bismarck. “We’ve got our attorneys here; we’re going to talk through easement contracts,” he said. “We’re used to the oil and gas pipelines, but this is a different deal with the CO2 pipeline, so we’re going to provide as much information as we can to protect private property.”

North Dakota Farm Bureau maintains a neutral stance on the pipeline’s construction, with Lies saying, “We care about looking out for our landowners’ interests.”

This event let landowners ask questions of attorneys and find out more information about the legal steps surrounding easements with the proposed pipeline. The attorneys were Chris McShane, David Piper and Lukas Andrud from the Ohnstead-Twitchell law firm.

“Some of the main information we’ve had from our meetings with Summit have been that there are 32 ethanol plants involved [with the pipeline], with five or six injection wells planned for the area,” Piper said. “The pipeline route is not set yet. They [Summit personnel] will be going to the Public Service Commission in mid-May to get it approved, at which point it will become more concrete.”

With much of the project still needing state approval, many landowners in attendance were left wondering about the implications to their land. “We’ve communicated with them [Summit] on some of these issues we’ve already identified, and they [Summit] are addressing and aware of what we’ve brought to their attention,” Piper said.

Some of the main issues landowners voiced during the meeting included:

  • liabilities surrounding pipeline reclamation and remediation
  • eminent domain of private land
  • protection for properties neighboring the pipeline, who wouldn’t receive easements
  • funding behind the project
  • construction indemnification
  • benefits state receives for housing pipeline
  • who to contact for correct property surveying
  • correct and fair language of contracts
  • reimbursement for landowner’s legal counsel
  • length of proposed easement (99 years)
  • land value rates after pipeline construction
  • leaks near residential or pastureland
  • restrictions on future construction near pipeline site

“We’re trying to flesh out indemnification language to make sure it is strong and landowner-friendly,” McShane said. “We’ve gotten word back from Summit that they have revised the initial draft to include identification of negligence and related damages.” 

He said that their team has high hopes of receiving a more landowner-friendly draft from Summit’s legal team. A main concern at the meeting centered on this being the first carbon dioxide pipeline in the state, and the uncertainty that accompanies that fact.

“We don’t know about the CO2 pipeline because we’ve never had one before,” McShane said.

Concerns around existing drain tiles seemed to be met, with Andrud saying, “They’ve been fairy receptive to going as deep as 7 feet to accommodate.”

Without clear plans in place, the depth of the pipeline should be around 4 feet, except in special accommodations. The pipeline construction would restrict landowners from building a house, barn or bin over the pipeline site.

Landowners were encouraged to make their needs known. What “we need to be talking about is what do they [Summit] need to do to satisfy you [to] make sure that you’re going to be put back in your position to operate as you currently do,” Andrud said.

Payment rates for landowners have not been determined at the date of the meeting, McShane said.

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