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Amendment would put carbon pipeline proceedings on hold in Iowa

Summit Carbon Solutions has a plan to capture carbon from ethanol plants and send it to western North Dakota. Landowners are resistant to the threat of eminent domain.

A sign along an Iowa road advocating no Navigator pipeline.
A sign along a Linn County, Iowa, road advocates for no Navigator carbon capture pipeline.
Contributed / Jessica Wiskus

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa House of Representatives has passed an amendment that would put a hold on hearings for carbon capture pipelines.

Landowners have been outspoken in opposition to letting pipeline developers use eminent domain to get the land they need to build a pipeline.

The amendment passed Thursday, March 24, would prohibit the Iowa Utilities Board from scheduling a hearing before Feb. 1, 2023, for carbon pipelines seeking the use of eminent domain.

Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, a Republican from Wilton, offered the amendment to an appropriations bill, House File 2565 .

There are three carbon capture pipelines in the works in Iowa. So far, Summit Carbon Solutions is the only company to file for a permit with the Iowa Utilities Board.

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Summit has plans for a pipeline that would capture carbon from ethanol plants in Iowa and four other states and transport the liquid carbon dioxide to North Dakota, where it would be stored underground.

The pipeline network would cover more than 2,000 miles, with 681 miles in Iowa, according to the Summit Carbon Solutions website.

In response to a request for comment on the legislative action, Summit issued this statement: “Since late last year, Summit Carbon Solutions has worked closely with Iowa landowners to create a mutually beneficial partnership. Summit has signed easements on more than 100 miles of the proposed route in Iowa. Additionally, we are currently finalizing agreements that include an additional 70 miles of the proposed route in the state. We continue to focus on securing voluntary easements to the move the project forward as scheduled. This project will transform the agricultural and ethanol industries across the region. It will allow future generations of farmers to continue to enjoy strong corn prices and land values for decades to come.”

Emma Schmit, of Food and Water Watch, one of the groups opposed to the pipeline, issued this statement: "Rep. Kaufmann's amendment opened the door, and we are now looking to the Senate to strengthen this language to enact permanent measures that protect Iowans from the harms these pipelines cause and the manipulative tactics being employed by pipeline companies. Our rights, our land, and our lives are not for sale."

Earlier in the Iowa legislative session, a Senate bill to curb the use of eminent domain was not acted upon in committee , effectively killing the bill for the session.

Summit also has applied for a permit in South Dakota, where the Public Utilities Commission has been holding hearings this week .

It has yet to apply for permits in North Dakota. It also will need to acquire permits in Minnesota and Nebraska.

If built, the $4.5 billion project from Summit Carbon Solutions would be the largest carbon capture project in the world.

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The project's opponents argue that Summit should not be allowed to use eminent domain to force landowners to allow pipeline construction on their land because the project primarily benefits a private company and its investors. There also are concerns about pipeline safety and impacts on farmland.

Summit says the project will benefit the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and will help the ethanol industry and ag economy thrive.

Summit would like to begin construction in 2023 and be operational in 2024.

A map of the Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline project
A map of the Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline project as it travels into Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota.
Troy Becker / The Forum

Reach Jeff Beach at jbeach@agweek.com or call 701-451-5651 (work) or 859-420-1177.
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