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SCOTUS begins issuing new opinions, with another expected related to the power of federal agencies, the battleground state of Wisconsin gets a ruling on alternative voting sites, and coastal work is being done to help salt marshes withstand hurricanes.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

New Twist in Regional Carbon Pipeline Plan Felt in MN

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Wednesday, August 9, 2023   

The fallout continues from last week's decision by North Dakota regulators to deny a permit for a controversial regional pipeline project. Opponents in Minnesota want officials here to take notice, and pump the brakes on their consideration of the plan.

The project in question is from Summit Carbon Solutions, a private company hoping to build a multistate pipeline. It would carry carbon emissions from ethanol plants to be stored underground in North Dakota.

Maggie Schuppert, campaigns director for the group Clean Up the River Environment, said since Summit's permit application was declined by North Dakota, it makes no sense for Minnesota to be putting time and effort into a review right now.

"If there is no project there on the other side of the border, it seems rather absurd to move this process forward and use government resources to do so," Schuppert asserted.

She pointed out the resources include an environmental review as part of Summit's application in Minnesota. The company said it plans to reapply for a North Dakota permit, but given the lengthy timeline and the possibility of another denial there, Schuppert feels the overall project is not viable. Minnesota's Public Utilities Commission could not be reached for comment.

Schuppert acknowledged Summit is not the only company behind the approach. Another is proposing a similar project for the upper Midwest. As federal incentives spur carbon-capture ventures, she said policymakers need to determine the best way to incorporate the technology as part of broader climate-change solutions.

"If there is a way for us to change entirely the way that we approach carbon capture, or clean energy infrastructure generally, that is done in a way that prioritizes communities, then we can start to maybe have a different conversation in this country," Schuppert contended.

Opponents worry the private projects are driven by profits and not the environmental benefits touted by developers. Critics also worry about public safety and damage to farmland. But the companies contend they are maximizing safety, and the pipelines would put a dent in carbon footprints.

Meanwhile, Clean Up the River Environment said Minnesota should also pause its review because federal officials are updating safety regulations for these specific pipelines.


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