Dozens of landowners in South Dakota are facing eminent domain lawsuits for a controversial carbon capture pipeline, and their elected Republican leaders—including Governor Kristi Noem—are doing nothing to stop it.
The technology captures carbon dioxide pollution from ethanol plants, power plants and steel factories, and stores it deep underground. The Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law by Joe Biden last year, massively expanded tax credits for carbon capture technologies.
Carbon Capture companies claim the technology will help the U.S. meet its greenhouse gas emissions goals, but the pipelines are already proving to be potentially dangerous. In February of 2020, a CO2 pipeline ruptured in a small town in Mississippi, endangering hundreds of lives, at least 45 of whom were hospitalized with CO2 poisoning.
Cars stopped working, hobbling emergency response. People lay on the ground, shaking and unable to breathe. First responders didn’t know what was going on. “It looked like you were going through the zombie apocalypse,” says Jack Willingham, emergency director for Yazoo County.
A company called Summit Carbon Solutions (SCS) has gone to court to seize the property rights of more than 80 South Dakota landowners because their land is in the path of a planned 2,000-mile carbon capture pipeline the company plans to build.
The pipeline, which plans to run through five states, would capture carbon dioxide from ethanol plants in Iowa and store it underground in North Dakota.
Jared Bossly, 42, is one of the landowners facing the loss of his property over the controversial project.
Conservative influencer Greg Price spoke with Bossly after surveyors from the company trespassed on his farm in Brown County, South Dakota and entered his home uninvited.
The Bossly family grows “corn, beans, and alfalfa in addition to raising cattle,” Price reported on Substack. “They also plant trees all over the property as a windbreak to protect the herd.”
Bossley has put his entire life into his work, and has passed those values along to his children. He and his 17-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son work on the farm daily to do the right things for the land.
Every spare penny the Bossly family has goes into their farm. Interviewing Bossly, I was struck by the level of care they put into their work.
On this particular day, he was nine miles away from his residence when he received a text from his wife, who works as a nurse but was home that day on leave from her job while recovering from gallbladder surgery.
She was in the shower when she heard their front door open and a voice yell “hello.”
Mrs. Bossly said she called her husband and asked if he was expecting anybody, and he said no. She then got dressed and went downstairs to see who had entered her home.
Reportedly, the surveyors walked into Bossly’s shop adjacent to their home and then returned to their farmland.
The farmer said he told his wife to find out who they were. With him on speakerphone, the men allegedly told her they were surveyors and he warned them that they shouldn’t be there without the Sheriff.
Later on, according to Bossly, a detective showed up on their property because the Summit surveyors had gone to the police and claimed that Bossly had threatened to kill them, a charge that he vehemently denied. “I had a six-second conversation with them over the phone,” Bossly explained.
Bossly also told his story to Fox Business earlier this week:
The company went on to file a complaint and contempt of court charge against Bossly, claiming he threatened to shoot land surveyors.
Judge Richard Sommers, who presided over the May 31 hearing, declined to hold the farmer in contempt but ordered lawyers for both sides to determine an acceptable time for the surveyors to do their work.
Over 50 landowners reportedly showed up in court to show solidarity with the Bosslys.
According to Price, this was just one example of SCS deploying dirty tactics to intimidate landowners in the way of their project.
Landowners from eight South Dakota counties have filed complaints about surveyors coming onto their land without consent or compensation. Even more sinister: they’re coming with armed security guards like something out of Blazing Saddles or Yellowstone.
Craig Schaunaman, a farmer and former member of the SD House of Representatives, detailed, in a recorded phone conversation, surveyors showing up with guards who had pistols strapped to their waists. Both Schaunaman and Bossly told me that they’ve heard similar stories from other farmers they know as well.
“They’re not open with their information or providing business cards,” Schaunaman said.
This is an image that was shared with @RepJonHansen from one of the South Dakota landowners in McPherson County facing an eminent domain lawsuit from Summit Carbon Solutions to build a carbon capture pipeline on their property for ethanol plants in Iowa.
It shows an armed… pic.twitter.com/cMAA9wNXDq
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) June 6, 2023
Republicans, meanwhile, have been Missing in Action, reportedly putting the agendas of lobbyists and donors above the property rights of their constituents.
In the last legislative session, multiple bills to protect landowners from eminent domain failed, including HB1133, which would have redefined carbon so that it was not a “common carrier,” rendering SCS unable to use eminent domain.
Their lobbyists obviously ensure it was defeated.
But it goes even deeper than that: the biggest reason South Dakota Republicans have not acted to protect hardworking farmers like Jared Bossly is that SCS has massive connections to GOP bigwigs and donors.
Their senior adviser is former six-term Republican Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who later served as President Trump’s Ambassador to China. He remains a political powerhouse in Iowa and his support is crucial to political success in the state (which may explain why a certain governor who fancies herself a presidential candidate hasn’t done anything). As a former Iowa governor, Branstad also has massive ties to the ethanol industry.
Their Vice President of Government Affairs is also Jake Ketzner, a longtime aid to Branstad and the former Chief of Staff to current Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. The CEO of their parent company, Summit Agricultural Group, is Bruce Rastetter, one of Iowa’s largest Republican donors.
Former South Dakota Republican Party Chairman Dan Lederman is also listed as a senior advisor for LS2group, a public relations firm working with SCS.
And here’s the kicker: They were a platinum sponsor of Gov. Kristi Noem’s inauguration back in January.
In an interview Thursday, Bossly said that he spoke to Gov. Noem about his situation and her response was “it’s out of my hands … am I supposed to fight all your battles?”
Wow. South Dakota farmer Jared Bossly, one of 80+ landowners in the state facing eminent domain lawsuits for a carbon capture pipeline, says he spoke to Gov. @KristiNoem about his situation and her response was "it's out of my hands… Am I supposed to fight all your battles?" pic.twitter.com/3ZAQeUrmnL
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) June 8, 2023