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Plain Talk: Landowners want a better deal on the Midwest Carbon Express pipeline

Kurt Swenson, a landowner in negotiations with Summit Carbon Solutions, and Daryl Lies, the president of the North Dakota Farm Bureau, joined this episode of Plain Talk to talk about what landowners want from the Midwest Carbon Express pipeline.

Summit demonstration.jpeg
A few dozen landowners on Nov. 18, 2021, attend Summit Carbon Solutions' demonstration south of Beulah, North Dakota, at the site of one of the company's test wells, which will drill to around 12,000 feet to gauge the suitability of the area for carbon dioxide storage.
Craig Bihrle / The Forum
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MINOT, N.D. — Carbon capture and storage is a big deal for North Dakota. Not just because our state's economy is dominated by commodity-based industries — energy and agriculture — that emit a lot of carbon, but because the geology under our feet lends itself to storing captured carbon.

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"I expect to be announcing that decision in a matter ... of hours not days," he said, adding that he doesn't expect to make the announcement today, but it's coming soon.

There are billions in investments lined across several projects to not only capture and store carbon emitted in our state, but to bring carbon from other parts of the world here for storage as well.

One of the first major projects is the Midwest Carbon Express pipeline, proposed by Iowa-based Summit Carbon Solutions, which would bring carbon emitted by ethanol plants across the upper Midwest to our state for storage.

Only, some landowners say the company hasn't been doing a good job at winning them over. On this episode of Plain Talk, Daryl Lies, the president of the North Dakota Farm Bureau, said some landowners had Summit Carbon representatives poking around on their land without permission. Kurt Swenson, himself a landowner who is in the process of negotiating with Summit, says the deals the company wants, and which North Dakota law allows, takes too much from landowners and doesn't compensate nearly high enough.

These are important things, both men argue, because the future of the emerging carbon capture and storage industry in North Dakota hinges on how these first deals play out.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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