Secret maps and toxic plumes dominate third day of pipeline testimony

FORT PIERRE – The “sensitive sites” potentially impacted by a carbon capture pipeline will remain confidential, for now. Meanwhile, modeling used to assess the impacts of a leak or rupture came under scrutiny Thursday during the third day of a permit hearing before state regulators at the Casey Tibbs Rodeo Center.

Stephen Lee is the executive vice president of engineering and construction for Navigator CO2, the company proposing the Heartland Greenway pipeline. Lee introduced maps marked as confidential for their focus on vital infrastructure. One “map overlay” includes the environmentally sensitive areas – including wetlands and waterways – that could be impacted during pipeline construction or in the case of an accident, Lee said.

Lee said the maps should remain confidential because they could be dangerous “in the hands of the wrong individuals” like “terrorists.”

Brian Jorde, an attorney representing landowners, failed to convince the three elected members of the Public Utilities Commission to make the map overlay public.

“I don’t think this is the time or place to solve that specific issue,” Commissioner Chris Nelson said, adding that there’s too little time to debate the issue during the permit hearing.

Jorde was not satisfied.