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When Green Energy Comes For Your Farm
Farmers are facing eminent domain lawsuits for carbon capture pipeline
A few weeks ago, 42-year-old Jared Bossly ventured out into his farm to plant alfalfa.
Bossly’s farm in Brown County, South Dakota has been owned by his family for four generations. They grow corn, beans, and alfalfa in addition to raising cattle. 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 asked her husband if he was expecting anybody, to which he said no. She then got dressed and went downstairs to see who it was.
Meanwhile, the two men who opened the front door of the house, then walked into Bossly’s shop adjacent to their home before heading back out onto their farmland.
Here is the security video Bossly shared with me.
Mrs. Bossly then called him to update him on the situation and he told her to go see who they were
They identified themselves as surveyors from a company called Summit Carbon Solutions (SCS).
The Bossly family are just one of over 80 South Dakota landowners facing eminent domain lawsuits Summit filed in late April.
These 80+ properties fall in the path of a planned 2,000-mile carbon capture pipeline the company plans to build. The planned project traverses five states and aims to capture carbon dioxide from ethanol plants in Iowa and sequester it underground in North Dakota.
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” This process of eminent domain was upheld by the Supreme Court as constitutional in the landmark case of Kelo v. New London. The process is highly controversial and often criticized by advocates for civil liberties on the left and right.
In South Dakota, there is no clear process laid out by which an entity is granted the power of eminent domain. Historically, once a project is approved or permitted by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), it assumes the power of eminent domain. But under the PUC’s Pipeline Sitting Guide, pipelines are designated as common carriers, which deflects the decisions to the circuit court system.
And despite the fact that the pipeline has not yet been permitted, SCS is taking advantage of South Dakota’s lack of private property protections and using it against landowners like Jared Bossly.
As he explained to me, the construction of a pipeline on his property would likely ruin the future success of his farm. The route would force them to bulldoze many of the trees he has planted, jeopardizing the safety of his cows by removing the windbreaks used to protect them. He also said that the topsoil is only about a foot deep, which means moving it around will likely prevent crops from growing there again.
Many landowners being taken to court are just like him- small town farmers whose farms have been in their family for generations.
The Green Energy Scam
A few years ago, one of the biggest stories in the country centered around the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which today carries over 750,000 barrels of oil per day from North Dakota to Illinois.
Despite not crossing through tribal lands and not using eminent domain to build it, the construction of the pipeline led to mass protests, many of which turned violent, as well as wall-to-wall media coverage.
Politicians like Bernie Sanders spoke out passionately against it, celebrities such as Mark Ruffalo, Shailene Woodley, and Jesse Jackson traveled to the protests in North Dakota and it even led to the leader of the Standing Rock Sioux getting an audience before the UN Human Rights Council.
Well unlike the Standing Rock Sioux, South Dakota landowners are actually facing property loss and it’s for a product that brings almost zero public benefits.
Based in Iowa, SCS has been able to turn carbon capture into profitable enterprise due to massive investments from venture capital firms such as TPG Rise Climate Fund and Tiger Investment Partners. They also benefit from massive subsidies from the federal government. The Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden last year, massively expanded tax credits for carbon capture worth up to $210 billion.
They also have received contributions from foreign investors like South Korean power utility and city gas provider SK E&S, which owns 10% of the stake in the company.
So instead being forced to give up their land for something like oil and gas transportation, which will actually bring energy to their state, South Dakota landowners will in turn get nothing. Just the ability for a large conglomerate to transport CO2 emissions from midwestern ethanol plants to North Dakota where they will be stored underground.
Carbon Dioxide is also classified as a hazardous material by the federal government and is commonly used as a euthanizing agent for livestock. CO2 leaks can cause massive damage to the surrounding community and is especially a concern here as the pipeline will be built so close to the residences of South Dakota landowners.
Bossly told me of one landowner who says the proposed path of the pipeline path is less than 200 yards from his child’s bedroom.
They provide no economic benefit to anyone aside from those who profit off ethanol and the green energy grift.
Now you might be thinking to yourself: “Wait a second. South Dakota is a ruby-red state. The legislature and Governor’s mansions are controlled by Republicans. Surely they are fighting to protect the property rights of their constituents?”
But you would be wrong.
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.
When Mrs. Bossly saw the two surveyors from Summit on their property, she called her husband on the phone. He told her to go up to them and ask who they are. With him on speakerphone, they told her they were surveyors to which he replied that they shouldn’t be there without the Sheriff.
Later on, Bossly’s wife called him back and said that a detective showed up to their property. The surveyors from Summit had gone to the police and claimed that he threatened to kill them, a charge that he vehemently denied.
“I had a six-second conversation with them over the phone,” Bossly said.
The Summit surveyors went on to file a complaint and contempt of court charge that would have prevented Bossly from being forced off of his property when the surveyors come back. Fortunately, the judge ruled in his favor on his May 31 court date.
Here is a picture of him in court during which over 50 landowners showed up to show solidarity.
This is just one of the tactics that Summit is using to intimidate landowners who do not agree to sign away their property rights. 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.
Does anyone care?
The story of Jared Bossly is heartbreaking but what’s even more heartbreaking is that he is just one of many landowners facing eminent domain suits from a private corporation. Their elected leaders have abandoned them and no one outside of select local media seems to even care about the issue.
South Dakotans whose farms have been in their families for generations, who have put their blood sweat and tears into their land, are now facing those properties being seized and ruined by corporations for the sake of the green energy grift.
When I spoked to Jared Bossly, I could feel the pain in his voice as he told me about how pipeline construction could ruin the future of his farm and his ability to pass it down to his own children, as his parents did for him.
He also shared with me some photos of the trees he plants to protect his herd of cattle that span acres across the farm.
It seems like that is something that will save the environment more than aiding and abetting the ethanol grift