This week, the Minnesota-based organization CURE formally petitioned the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to halt their review of Summit Carbon Solutions’ proposed CO2 pipeline in Otter Tail and Wilkin Counties. CURE’s request comes in response to North Dakota’s recent denial of Summit’s permit application in that state. In their filing, CURE contends that without access to the intended CO2 storage site in North Dakota, Summit’s project is “for all practical purposes a pipeline to nowhere.”
On August 4, 2023, in a unanimous decision, the North Dakota Public Service Commission (NDPSC) denied Summit’s applications for a route permit and a Certificate of Corridor Compatibility, finding that Summit had not proven that they could build, operate, or maintain the pipelines in a way that would have “minimal adverse effects on the environment and upon on the welfare of the citizens…”
Summit’s proposed pipelines in Minnesota and North Dakota are segments of the company’s five-state Midwest Carbon Express pipeline network, which would carry some of the CO2 captured from a variety of industrial facilities in the Midwest to a storage site in North Dakota.
“North Dakota’s denial sends a clear message to the other states’ regulators reviewing this project—it is not ready for prime time and poses significant threats to the environment and human health that cannot be mitigated,” said Sarah Mooradian, CURE’s Government Relations and Policy Director. “Continuing the permitting process here in Minnesota for Summit’s half-baked plan would be illogical and irresponsible.”
Hudson Kingston, CURE’s Legal Director added, “The Public Utilities Commission exists to serve the public and safeguard our interests against large utilities and project proposers—at this point, the PUC can serve Minnesotans best by pumping the breaks on a project that doesn’t seem to be viable as originally described.” CURE invoked a statutory standard to delay the process for “good cause,” and Kingston continued, “it seems like the definition of ‘good cause’ for a pause when the pipeline the PUC is considering has no pending permits in the state that the Minnesota segment must connect to.”
“Concerned citizens from our communities have been showing up consistently at the PUC to voice their concerns about these risky pipelines. The PUC, to their credit, seems to be listening,” said Peg Furshong, an affected landowner and organizer for CURE. “But folks out here have a lot to deal with and we shouldn’t be asked to waste our time, energy, or public resources on a private project that very well may go nowhere.”