A coalition who opposes eminent domain met in Sioux Falls to launch a group named “South Dakotans First”.
The group includes advocates and lawmakers who have been in vocal support of landowners on this issue.
The South Dakotans First coalition officially launched Thursday. Multiple groups make up the organization, including Dakota Rural Action, South Dakota Farmers Union and Landowners for Eminent Domain Reform.
This comes after Summit Carbon Solutions officially dropped all their eminent domain lawsuits against state landowners. Both Navigator CO2 and Summit Carbon Solutions applications to construct carbon capture pipelines in South Dakota were recently rejected by the state Public Utilities Commission.
South Dakota Farmers Union president Doug Sombke said publicly elected officials need to act in adjusting state eminent domain laws.
“We have to find a way to get the legislators to agree. Both in the Senate and the House, we what to make personal property rights a thing that is best for the property owner, not necessarily a private company that wants to become profitable,” said Sombke.
Sombke said that the South Dakotans First coalition is likely to pick up more supporting organizations and causes.
The group isn’t focused only on pipelines. Sombke pointed to supporting landowners in Lincoln County who oppose theDOC’s new state prison location.
Chris Karr is a state representative for Minnehaha County. He was among many lawmakers in attendance who support the coalition.
“Would the CO2 pipeline provide the benefit that’s necessary to meet that threshold for eminent domain to take someone’s property, use somebody’s property? I’m not convinced myself, and I think you just heard from a whole room full of people and they talked about some statistics from when they poll people, and they would say the same thing,” said Karr. “They would say ‘I don’t think a CO2 pipeline meets that threshold for eminent domain and taking people’s private property or using their private property’.”
Summit recently offered counties in the state grants for the sum of $50,000 dollars plus an additional $1,000 per mile of pipeline running through the county. Summit said the grants are meant for the additional cost for training and equipment for emergency responders.
Opponents of the pipelines said the amount of grant money offered proves that Summit is missing the point. They said it is as simple as allowing the landowner to say, “no thank you.”