The state’s second-ever carbon dioxide pipeline was the topic of a nearly four-hour public hearing in Bowman on Thursday.
The North Dakota Public Service Commission (PSC) heard testimony from Denbury Resources, the Texas-based company that would be responsible for the creation and maintenance of the pipeline.
KX News sat in on the meeting today to find out if the public is on-board with the proposal.
The plan is to transfer CO2 from Fallon, Montana to oil production facilities in Bowman, through a 17.77-mile pipeline that would also pass through Slope County, North Dakota.
“Before the Bakken, we were the number one producer of oil in the state of North Dakota, so that’s why some of the concerns about the pipeline is the reclamation on it,” shared Bowman County Commission Chair Lynn Brackel.
The Bowman County Commission approved the project long before Thursday’s meeting.
“We haven’t had any opposition to it at all,” Brackel added.
Commissioner Brackel said it will be good for the county to put legacy wells in the area back to use.
“It’s a very big deal because our production has been dropping because our oil wells are starting to show some age,” he explained.
Now it’s up to the three-person Public Service Commission to make the final decision about whether or not the pipeline is built.
Their biggest concern is the environmental impact a CO2 pipeline could have on the land, and on the people who own the land.
“There’s a lot of…there’s 210 or so leaks listed on here, a large number of them,” PSC Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said to Denbury’s Environmental Compliance Member.
“It’s nothing like a liquid or natural gas line, or an oil line. It would immediately vaporize, and the exposure to CO2 is asphyxiation, loss of oxygen,” Denbury Resources Environmental Compliance Manager Rusty Shaw shared.
But Denbury was able to outline a full-scale emergency response plan for potential leaks.
“We talk with all the members of the public that we route through, or are nearby. We make sure they understand the safety requirements of the line and make sure they have the phone numbers to call if there was an issue,” Shaw added.
After everything was on the table, all of the public comment was in favor of the pipeline.
There weren’t a lot of landowners in the group. Instead, city officials and union groups were pushing for Denbury to hire locals to work on the pipeline.
“We have tracked dozens and dozens of pipeline projects throughout the state, and there are many where we have shotty contractors that are coming in and just walking away from landowners. We know there is a good, local, trained workforce,” shared Pamela Walker, a Laborers’ International Union of North America member, originally from Bowman County.
Ultimately the decision was not made today. The PSC will meet again before making the final call. Commissioner Randy Christmann said that’s still a few weeks out.
That PSC meeting will be available for the public to listen in on, online.
If it’s approved, Denbury plans to begin construction of the pipeline in July and finish up in November.