Senate panel moves to limit local authority in pipeline regulation

A bill limiting the right of counties to regulate pipeline setbacks advanced out of a state Senate committee on Thursday morning.

Senate Bill 201 would bar counties from enacting local zoning rules strict enough to regulate gas or liquid pipelines out of existence, but would also allow counties to levy a per-foot surcharge on pipeline companies and codify certain landowner protections for things like disrupted drain tile.

The bill passed the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee on a 7-2 vote, taken before a packed house of supporters and opponents, the latter of whom applauded loudly enough after one round of testimony to cause the chair to call for order.

The crowd and its occasional emotion were animated by one of the most controversial topics to whisk through the Capitol halls both this year and last. In 2023, there were two carbon dioxide pipeline projects in the works for South Dakota, both of which would transport carbon produced by ethanol plants to sites in other states for underground sequestration. Doing so would open the door to billions in federal tax credits for the pipeline companies and their partners.