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Pipeline bills push into last week of legislative session


A group of bills aimed at pipeline regulation and landowner rights are fighting their way to the legislative finish line.

The three bills have been a point of contention for lawmakers this session.

Senate Bill 201 is perhaps the most impactful bill this session aimed at addressing pipelines and landowner rights.

It adds an additional fee pipeline companies must pay counties but limits how local governments can regulate pipelines.

The bill has undergone ten amendments this session. Sen. Casey Crabtree asked that the bill be sent to a conference committee to work out the differences.

“Conference committees are a vital part of the legislative process for us. As we proceed we know we have two additional bills that move through committee today that are a part of solving this huge issue. So, no matter what side of this issue you are on, there is still a problem for us to solve,” said Crabtree in discussion on the Senate floor Thursday.  

Not all lawmakers where onboard. Republican Sen. Tom Pischke and Democratic Sen. Red Dawn Foster rose in opposition to the motion. Foster said a conference committee would completely undo the progress made for landowners this session.

Senators voted to send the bill to a conference committee. This is a committee made up of three representatives from the House and three senators.

Meantime, a pair of House bills aimed at creating new legislation on the topic passed the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee Thursday.

Sponsors of the bill said House bill 1185 and 1186 are designed to support landowner rights.

HB 1185 would amend provisions for entry onto private property for examination and surveying purposes. HB 1186 aims to bring clarity to defining requirements for granting a carbon pipeline easement.

Crabtree is a prime sponsor of the bills. He said the an amendment that was added along the way provides protections for future generations.

“Let’s talk about why we are at 50 years. If you take and look, just a quick Google search this morning will show you that the Wall Street Journal has an article that shows that half of the U.S. pipelines are at least 46 years old. That is an older article that’s posted. So, we know that the lifetime of this is 50 years, easily," said Crabtree. "We also know that we want them, should they come into our state and build, to have all the respect for the landowners. But we want to make sure that they build something that is extremely safe that will stand the test of time.”

Landowners in attendance did not agree. They said the bills limit local control.

“This is not in favor of landowners. They’re the bread and blood. They’re the number one industry in South Dakota. We come to you because we need help. And we are going to ask that you oppose this amendment. It is not for the landowners,” said Joy Hohn, a landowner from Minnehaha County. 

Both bills passed and now head to the House floor.

Evan Walton is an SDPB reporter based in Sioux Falls. Evan holds a Master’s in English Literature from Southern New Hampshire University and was honorably discharged from the United States Army in 2015, where he served for five years as an infantryman.