It seems as if State Senator Lee Shoenbeck was caught talking out of both sides of his mouth over the issue of the carbon capture pipeline. While farmers fight for their way of life and property rights to be upheld, and the governor (Is it because she’s an investor in an ethanol company partnered with one of the controversial carbon pipeline companies?) and majority of the state legislature are silent and dead in the water with action despite tax payers begging them to do something to help, we see Senator Shoenbeck say one thing in public then the opposite behind closed doors. He told listeners while on KXLG News that farmers and SD Ethanol NEED this pipeline and listed off various reasons why, seeming to justify the perceived illegal land grab of the pipeline companies from the farmers fighting against them. He’s also recorded on Watertown Radio saying he wishes the pipeline would go through his property so he could get paid like what is being proposed to the farmers. But then, in an email Shoenbeck sent to the PUC, Michael Cartney (The then president of Lake Area Technical College), State Rep. Hugh Bartels, State Rep. Nancy York, State Rep. Byron Callies, Watertown Mayor Ried Holien, Watertown City Manager Amanda Mack, and Sr. Barbara Younger talking about the proposed pipeline going through a housing project spearheaded by a group of nuns on their property in Watertown, he specifically stated that the pipeline going through that project was, in fact, an eminent domain and route issue, encouraging those he sent the email to (again, including the PUC), to share this email as necessary in order to resolve the conflict. It included a statement that sounded like a possible threat, saying that “they [the pipeline company] need to not go through that new housing project or they won’t like the legislation they’ll see next year.”
He then forwarded that email to Jim Seurer, the CEO of Glacial Lakes Energy, an ethanol company on neighboring property to the housing project (see map screenshot), saying with brute force to Seurer that he doesn’t want to get in the middle of this issue and to let Shoenbeck know what he’s going to do about it.
Knowing how politicians tend to act so quickly and effectively when it serves themselves, I looked to find any direct connection that Shoenbeck had to this housing project, especially with how he worded his email to say “a group of us,” but couldn’t find any, yet. So far, it seems like he’s doing a favor for his buddies who are involved with this housing project by being on the Board of Directors. I was also curious if this housing project was the reason he and Noem seemed to be at odds over the $200 million workforce housing program being stalled yet again. Was he hoping for government funding for the Harmony Hill housing project in some way? I don’t know but it’s worth asking the question!
Why does Shoenbeck and most of his colleagues in the legislature act only when it benefits them? Why didn’t Shoenbeck work this hard when farmers begged their state government to do something? Why are they content with big, out-of-state companies disregarding the individual rights of SD citizens, going so far as to ask to be able to usurp the county ordinances put in place by the commissions to help protect the farmers in those counties so the pipeline companies can have their way?
Thankfully, the PUC, just today (9/6/23), declined Navigator’s pipeline permit application with a unanimous vote. Summit Carbon is up next! It’s my hope someday that people like these South Dakota farmers will represent South Dakotans in our local governments and state legislature, for it is only when that happens that we will get fair, unbiased, and true representation again. Congratulations and God bless, South Dakota farmers!!