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South Dakota to Adopt Landowner Bill of Rights

PIERRE–Today, Republican Majority Leaders announced the nation’s first Landowner Bill of Rights related to carbon dioxide pipeline projects, making South Dakota a leader in landowner protections throughout the nation.

At the beginning of the 2024 Legislative Session, House Majority Leader Will Mortenson and Senate Majority Leader Casey Crabtree set out to protect landowners and address issues that have emerged in recent years related to interstate utility projects. Together, the Majority Leaders worked on proposals that focused on a project development process that promotes respect, fairness, and certainty for everyone involved.

“These bills are 100 percent pro-farmer and 100 percent pro-landowner,” said Rep. Mortenson, R-District 24. “This package has landowner protections, real benefits to landowners and real benefits to counties. Those were my requirements and they have been met. We’re keeping local input, while keeping South Dakota open for business.”

“When South Dakota farmers succeed, all of South Dakota succeeds, and that cuts both ways. When South Dakota farmers have limited access to national and global markets, our whole state suffers,” said Sen. Crabtree, R-District 8. “These bills reflect the values of South Dakota and set the path for the future of farming in South Dakota. We entered session with an opportunity to help farmers, and we followed through. This package of bills sets the new standard for other states to follow to secure their economic future and provide a blanket of strong protections to landowners.”

“It took us two years for us all to come together because we were so far apart on utility certainty and landowner protections,” said Rep. Oren Lesmeister, D-District 28A and House Minority Leader. “We’ve come together as South Dakotans to do what’s best for all of South Dakota, but especially farmers, ranchers and landowners.”

South Dakota lawmakers are set to approve substantial protections for landowners. To do business in South Dakota, CO2 utility projects will be required to:

  1. Construct a minimum depth of 48 inches–a full foot beyond federal requirements.

  2. Assume lifetime drain tile damage repair policy.

  3. Assume pipeline leak liability protection.

  4. Indemnify landowners from any damage caused by the pipeline.

  5. File an agricultural impact mitigation plan with the Public Utilities Commission.

  6. File a dispersion analysis report with the PUC.

  7. Require land agents to have a tie to South Dakota.

  8. Provide landowner with survey results.

  9. Only mortgage pipeline infrastructure–not an easement holder’s property.

  10. Limit easement duration to 99 years.

  11. Construct CO2 pipeline within 5 years of easement enactment.

  12. Abandon easements if the CO2 pipeline is out of service for 5 years.

  13. Pipeline easements must be written.

  14. Follow survey and access rights.

  15. Provide an access payment to the landowner for survey and siting.

SB 201 collects financial payments from CO2 pipeline operators at the county level per linear foot of the pipeline. The surcharge will provide $0.50 to pipeline landowner property tax relief and $0.50 to county general discretion for each linear foot. This is an estimated influx of $3.6 million annually to South Dakota counties for tax relief.

HB 1185 establishes a clear and fair process for landowners to be informed and compensated for access by companies for surveying and siting. It also establishes a process to challenge requests for access. HB 1185 also sets a $500 payment for survey access to the landowner.

HB 1186 sets easement standards for CO2 pipeline planning projects in South Dakota. Easements will be required to be written, expire in 99 years and be abandoned if the pipeline is out of use for five years or more or if the operator fails to file for permitting within five years.

Together, these bills continue the South Dakota tradition of being good neighbors and right-sizing the issues that have emerged related to pipelines to forge a path forward that respects landowners, creates fairness for landowners and developers, and provides certainty for all parties during the phases of easements, constructions and operations.

SB 201, HB 1185 and HB 1186 are supported by agriculture, landowner, and economic development groups representing tens of thousands of family farms and landowners.

“By looking out for the landowner, the Legislature is requiring developers to accept these terms and be good neighbors in South Dakota,” added Crabtree. “The Legislature’s focus is on South Dakota. This package is the result of listening to landowners, farmers and our constituents and then doing the right thing for our state.”

“I’m excited for the Legislature to cross the finish line with these landowner protections,” added Mortenson. “Doing nothing this session benefits no one – especially farmers. I’m glad we are seizing our opportunity to help farmers, help counties, and ensure projects in our state get built in a South Dakota way.”

SB 201, HB 1185 and HB 1185 will be heard in conference committee on Wednesday, March 6. The proposed amendments for consideration are posted online at sdlegislature.gov.

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