Signatures submitted for South Dakota veto referendum regarding carbon dioxide pipeline regulations

In South Dakota, a ballot measure campaign submitted signatures for a veto referendum on June 25, 2024, against Senate Bill 201 (SB 201), a law regarding carbon dioxide pipelines.

Gov. Kristi Noem (R) signed SB 201 on March 26, 2024. SB 201 provides requirements for regulating carbon dioxide pipelines used in carbon capture and storage systems. These systems take carbon emissions from emission sources, such as oil and gas plants or factories, transport them through pipelines, and store them underground to reduce their emission into the atmosphere.

SB 201 would also allow counties to enact a $1 per linear foot surcharge on related pipeline companies. At least half of the surcharge revenue would be allocated toward property tax reductions for affected landowners.

At least 17,509 valid signatures are needed for the referendum to be placed on the Nov. 5, 2024, ballot. According to South Dakota Searchlight, “an estimated 28,000 petition signatures” were submitted. Should the veto referendum make the ballot, a “yes” vote would be to uphold SB 201, and a “no” vote would be to repeal the law.

State Rep. Will Mortensen (R-24) sponsored SB 201 in the South Dakota State Legislature. He mentioned a proposed carbon dioxide pipeline, the Summit Pipeline, that would transport carbon dioxide from 57 ethanol plants in South Dakota and neighboring states to North Dakota, where the carbon dioxide would be stored underground.

Rep. Mortensen said, “If you don’t think the pipeline should be held accountable, you should vote no. If you don’t think farmers deserve additional compensation, you should vote no. If you don’t think counties deserve additional compensation from these pipelines, you should vote no. But if you want farmers protected and counties benefited if these pipelines are built, you should vote yes like the Legislature did and the governor approved.”

Jim Eschenbaum, chairman of South Dakota Property Rights and Local Control Alliance, said that SB 201 set a precedent in allowing the Public Utilities Commission to automatically overrule local commissioners regarding setbacks. Eschenbaum said, “It took the voice away from county commissioners and gave it to three people in Pierre. They basically say we’re not smart enough, that we don’t understand. I think it’s an awful precedent to set.”

If enough signatures are verified for the referendum, it will join six other ballot measures on the ballot for Nov. 5, 2024. They are:

  • Constitutional Amendment E: Would amend the state constitution to change male pronouns in the Constitution to gender-neutral terms or titles
  • Constitutional Amendment F: Would amend the state constitution to provide that the state “may impose a work requirement on any person … who has not been diagnosed as being physically or mentally disabled” for eligible individuals to receive Medicaid under the Medicaid expansion that took effect on July 1, 2023
  • Constitutional Amendment G: Would provide a trimester framework for regulating abortion in the South Dakota Constitution, making abortion legal in South Dakota with regulations after the first and second trimester
  • Constitutional Amendment H: Would replace partisan primaries with top-two primaries for state executive, state legislative, congressional, and county offices
  • Initiated Measure 28: Would prohibit state sales taxes on anything sold for human consumption, not including alcoholic beverages or prepared food.
  • Initiated Measure 29: Would legalize the recreational use, possession, and distribution of marijuana