Horowitz: Red-state communism? South Dakota landowners losing property to carbon capture scam
Think climate communism is relegated to California and the Democrats? Think again. It is rearing its ugly head in the Dakotas and upper Midwest more than anywhere else in the country. Not only are these red-state governments spending a ton on green energy, they are grabbing private property for the “carbon capture and sequestration” scam to build pipelines and caves underground, not to allow oil and gas to flow, but to magically capture carbon – all for a lie. Where is the outrage?
Thanks to the federal and state governments monopolizing the public square to perpetuate the carbon climate lie, companies like Summit Carbon Solutions have been able to take a maniacally uneconomical idea and potentially make it profitable. The endless tax credits, worth as much as $210 billion over the next 15 years, proposed in the “Inflation Reduction Act” last year were the icing on the cake. Now this company, controlled by well-connected GOP donors in the region, is going ahead with construction of a 2,000-mile pipeline, not for oil and gas, but to senselessly sequester carbon out of the atmosphere. It will be routed through Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota, and North Dakota, supposedly transporting CO2 emissions from Midwestern ethanol plants to North Dakota just northwest of Bismarck, where they will be stored underground in very expensive infrastructure.
Now, imagine losing your land due to private-use eminent domain for a product that brings zero public benefit and is propped up by venture socialist policies built on a scientific lie. In South Dakota, pipelines are designated in statute as common carriers and, as such, have the ability to force eminent domain in the courts without having to prove it’s for the public good.
Conservatives in the South Dakota legislature tried to amend this status and force Summit as well as Navigator CO2’s Heartland Greenway project to be subject to public-use eminent domain laws, but House Bill 1133, after passing the House 40-28, was unanimously killed in the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee.
Without action from the legislature or any effort from the governor to even speak out against the premise of this project, landowners are now receiving petitions for condemnation. Here is a sample of one petition obtained by Blaze Media, which was filed by the Iowa-based Summit Carbon Solutions, to claim land near the North Dakota border in the north central part of the state:
“This is oppression,” said one landowner, who lives next door to one of the sites in McPherson County and has numerous relatives on the hook to lose land. “Invasive surveys have begun, with security watching out for an incident. Condemnation suits have dropped to over 100 individuals and families across the state. None of this has been done in an agreeable manner.”
The Argus Leader reports that Summit has initiated 80 eminent domain lawsuits against reluctant landowners in nine South Dakota counties. "Basically, it should send a message to South Dakota and [landowners] that this is the type of company we are going to be dealing with," Hohn told the Argus Leader. "Is this the type of company we want coming through South Dakota?"
Remember, Summit is an out-of-state company with foreign investors that is now able to use South Dakota’s laws against landowners related to inalienable rights. This is so wrong.
It would be one thing to give up your family estate for something that will bring energy to the state, but imagine ceding your historic farm or ranch for a lie packaged with nothing but carbon. This project would never get off the ground without government-sponsored lies about the climate, subsidies, and the regulatory state. It is the energy project equivalent of the COVID vaccines.
The entire premise of this project is built on so many lies, yet we are allowing it to change our lives irrevocably, as we did with COVID and the vaccines under the guise of scientific consensus.
Consider the following:
- Carbon dioxide itself only composes 0.04% of the atmosphere (watch Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) stump a bunch of climate activists on this fact).
- CO2 has only increased 0.01% over the past 60 years and historically was much higher in the past – long before SUVs and trucks.
- Humans are only responsible for a few percent of the carbon in the atmosphere because most carbon is obviously natural, and without it we could not live.
- This is why, despite renewables increasing by 12% and coal decreasing by 8% in 2022, U.S. carbon emissions still ticked up by 1.3%.
- However, despite increasing CO2 levels over the past decade – regardless of our energy policies – NOAA data shows no evidence of any warming since 2015.
- So there is zero correlation between energy policy and carbon levels, or between carbon levels and global temperatures.
But aside from the premise of energy policy and carbon itself being a problem, let’s look at the scope of what carbon capture would accomplish. As American Enterprise Institute senior fellow Benjamin Zycher explains, if somehow we succeeded in capturing 10% of greenhouse gases, it would cost, at the low end, about $265 billion per year. It’s no wonder even the leftists in Norway have halted a carbon capture project due to cost.
Oh, and there is the storage issue. As Robert Bryce observes, “We would need to find an underground location (or locations) able to swallow a volume equal to the contents of 41 oil supertankers each day, 365 days a year.”
Moreover, some estimate that carbon capture and storage would ultimately produce more CO2 through the process than the amount actually stored. One estimate is that 101,822 tons of captured CO2 would produce 120,400 tons of CO2.
Yet Republicans are completely bought into this scam because the government has made it profitable in the short term for special interests. Why has Governor Noem remained so silent? Well, the petition for condemnation on this particular eminent domain demand was signed by Aaron Scheibe, Noem’s former chief of staff, and Brent Koenecke, current treasurer of the South Dakota Republican Party.
Sadly, the South Dakota legislature was in session for just 40 days and is now out until next January. Green energy fascism is among the most radical and destructive leftist policies confronting us, yet Republicans buy into it in the reddest states. At a time when Biden is proposing new crippling carbon regulations on power plants and California is preparing to ban diesel trucks, red states should completely eschew the carbon lie and run on prosperity, freedom, and maintaining our humane standard of living.