In reference to today’s vote in the State House on a pair of bills attacking pipeline projects that South Dakota ethanol producers are trying to take part in to be competitive on a world stage for biofuel production, there is a parallel battle taking place in Iowa. As covered by the Iowa Capital Dispatch, the Director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association has some poignant commentary asking legislators in his own state whether they want to actually ethanol production in their state:
“I honestly don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that capturing and sequestering carbon will be life or death for most ethanol plants over the next five years,” Monte Shaw said at the organization’s annual summit in Des Moines.
Shaw argued that the proposed legislation unfairly targets one type of infrastructure project.
“If you are an Iowa legislator and you honestly believe our current laws don’t provide enough landowner protections, that’s your right,” Shaw said. “But if you support legislation that singles out (carbon dioxide) or liquid fuel pipelines instead of applying new standards to all eminent domain requests, then I politely suggest you’re not really interested in property rights.”
Opponents of the pipelines have objected to the projects over safety concerns, landowners’ rights and damage to farmland. Some environmentalists also argue that increasing the long-term viability of ethanol by reducing its carbon intensity will merely prolong its use at a time when the nation is transitioning toward electric vehicles.
South Dakotans proudly point to it as being one of the most business friendly climates in the nation.. except when legislators choose not to be, and are debating whether to change the rules in the middle of the process. All the state would be doing with passing this legislation is sending a message that pipelines and major energy projects are not welcome in the state. If the goal is to create more business regulation and a system where the legislature picks the winners, the only message it sends is that we want to be more like California.
As was noted to legislators and media in the tours that the ethanol producers gave of their production plants this last summer, without this project, South Dakota producers cannot sell to the largest ethanol markets in the US, as they are demanding carbon neutrality. And the state’s homegrown energy production will be strangled by the competition in other states who can sequester carbon. If South Dakota ethanol production plants are able to participate, plants could grow and expand and support farmers even more.
As a state, aren’t we supposed to be about a level playing field, and creating opportunities?
Good question for House members to ask themselves. There will be a test this afternoon.