SD Residents Launch South Dakota Ag Alliance
(Pierre, SD) Today, Jason Glodt and Rob Skjonsberg announced the formation of South Dakota Ag Alliance, a non-profit organization designed to mediate and advocate for reasonable solutions to difficult ag and rural development issues, such as the controversial CO2 pipeline proposal.
In regard to CO2 pipelines, the organization will urge the legislature to establish landowner guardrails that include 1) land survey reform; 2) liability protection; 3) minimum depth of carbon-capture pipelines; and 4) additional recurring compensation for landowners. In exchange for these concessions, they will also support improving legal and regulatory certainty for businesses.
South Dakota Ag Alliance is not associated with any company. The sole purpose is to discuss and propose reasonable guardrails for both South Dakota residents and prospective developers. Glodt and Skjonsberg are long-time friends and business partners who disagreed on the value of CO2 pipelines in South Dakota.
Skjonsberg, is a cow-calf producer in Jones and Stanley Counties and is a founding board member of the South Dakota Landowner & Outfitter Alliance. Skjonsberg doesn’t disagree with the value to corn ethanol that carbon sequestration will provide, but disliked the manner in which South Dakota landowners were being treated and the lack of certainty for landowners and developers alike.
“There’s a manner in which we do business in South Dakota. If you try to run over us, you won’t like the response. And, I think that’s what’s happened here. On one hand, I’m proud of the way landowners have banded together. On the other hand, if we don’t provide certainty for how these projects are going to work, we’ll be fighting these fights for the next 50 years. I think it’d be much wiser, to set the tone and create guardrails for landowners and certainty for investors in these types of projects. There’s precedent for handling these big projects. We just need to be able to communicate.” stated Skjonsberg.
Glodt, an attorney from Pierre who also specializes in government relations and previously worked for the Navigator project said, “Our state’s ag economy took a big punch to the gut recently when Navigator CO2 Ventures announced the end of its Heartland Greenway CO2 sequestration project. That project was essential to keeping our ethanol industry viable. The project would have generated millions of annual property tax revenue for counties while increasing net farm income for South Dakota farmers.”
“Now that our state has lost the Navigator project and biofuel companies are re-evaluating their future investments in the state, we cannot afford to lose the Summit Project so we have to find a path forward,” said Glodt. “Unless South Dakota ethanol plants and, consequently South Dakota corn growers, have access to carbon sequestration opportunities, these South Dakota plants will not be able to compete with other states around us and we will be at risk of losing our ethanol industry- which would be devastating for our state’s economy.”
The opposing viewpoints is what led the two to create South Dakota Ag Alliance. “Jason and I were on entirely opposite sides when this fight erupted. Neither of us were interested in what the other had to say, and then over lunch we agreed – what this deal is lacking is certainty and a referee,” said Skjonsberg. “In hindsight, somebody should have put everyone in a room and said, ‘listen, this is how this is going to work, or it’s not going to work at all. We have thousands of miles of pipelines in South Dakota, wind turbines and processing facilities – it’s not like we haven’t worked through those issues before.”
The mission of South Dakota Ag Alliance is to support landowner rights along with reasonable ag and rural development. The two believe that regulatory certainty can be obtained that prevents these types of fights from continually erupting and plan to discuss their proposal with stakeholders in the near future and hope to collectively agree on a solution for the legislature to consider. “We don’t expect either side to fully endorse what we’re proposing. But, if both sides put a little skin in the game and both sides have certainty, we’d like to see a workable environment for everyone,” said Glodt. Skjonsberg added, “That starts with updated landowner protections and subsequently, the pipeline companies will have their certainty.”
South Dakota Ag Alliance will next announce an advisory committee comprised of South Dakota residents involved in farming and ranching operations. Long-time South Dakota ag advocate Lorin Pankratz will serve as the chair of the advisory committee.