‘It’s about property rights’: Some farmers resent ethanol industry’s push for carbon pipelines

ABERDEEN, South Dakota — Craig Schaunaman, who farms thousands of acres, has been invested in the ethanol industry since its early days and even served on the board of an ethanol plant.

But a carbon-capture pipeline supported by dozens of ethanol plants would cross his land, and he’s against it, even though ethanol officials say the pipeline is crucial to the future viability of the industry.

“Eminent domain should not be used for a private company’s gain,” Schaunaman said.

Schaunaman received a letter in mid-2021 from Summit Carbon Solutions, one of the companies planning to build a carbon-capture pipeline across the Midwest, requesting permission to conduct surveys on his land that would involve digging.

“I told them they were not allowed to do surveying without compensation,” he said.

By the fall of 2021, Summit approached him with an initial offer that he considered “under market value” to place a permanent easement on his land. By May 2022, the company had offered him “three times as much,” but Schaunaman remained adamant about not allowing the construction of a pipeline carrying potentially hazardous liquified carbon dioxide on his property, saying, “It’s about property rights for me.”