Concerned Iowa residents gather to discuss proposed CO2 pipelines

Iowa residents discuss potential concerns with proposed CO2 pipelines
Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 11:16 AM CDT|Updated: Mar. 28, 2023 at 2:28 PM CDT
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OAKLAND, Iowa. (WOWT) - Sunday, Iowa residents came together for a town hall asking what they can do about three proposed CO2 pipelines. Each one would go through dozens of counties in Iowa.

Some of the residents who attended said they are concerned.

“Pipeline construction can permanently damage the land, drainage systems, and more,” said Jan Norris, presenter at the hall and resident of Montgomery County.

In Iowa, three companies, Summit Carbon Solutions, Navigator CO2 Ventures, and Archer Daniel Midlands Co., want to build CO2 pipelines that would take carbon dioxide emissions from ethanol plants, turn them to liquid, and sequester them underground. They say it would help lower ethanol’s carbon footprint as President Joe Biden pushes the fuel industry to reduce harmful emissions that contribute to climate change.

Sue Miller is part of the Pottawattamie County Board of Supervisors. She attended the town hall, taking careful notes of the presentation and questions.

“This is a great example of everchanging times, and we need to be progressive and understand how we can work that balance between economic development and our farming agricultural,” said Miller.

Summit Carbon Solution’s proposed pipeline would go through nearly 30 counties in Iowa, and run through parts of Nebraska, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. It says the sequestered gas would be released underground in North Dakota.

Navigator’s Phase 1 of the pipeline runs diagonally across Iowa. Archer Daniel Midlands Co. says they’re focusing on four counties in eastern Iowa, from Clinton to Cedar Rapids.

People raised concerns over a possible pipeline rupture, which happened three years ago in Mississippi sending nearly 50 people to the hospital.

“I’m the only rural physician in our county, and I have real concerns about how we would respond to injury with rupture,” said Dr. Glenn Hurst who practices family medicine in Minden.

Jane Hout is from Council Bluffs. Her parents live in Ida County, about five miles from an ethanol plant. Her daughter and son-in-law volunteer with local emergency medical services.

“How would smaller counties afford the training necessary to deal with a rupture?” asked Hout. “They would be the first people to come across these scenes, and how are they going to handle that?”

According to Summit Carbon Solutions spokesperson, Jesse Harris, “the company will supply the response equipment needed to aid in protecting the public.”

Others worried about easement agreements and eminent domain, which could be granted by Iowa’s utility board. Landowners that fought the Dakota Access oil pipeline over eminent domain lost in a ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court in 2019.

However, a significant percentage of landowners already signed voluntary easements, accounting for 91% of Summit Carbon Soluntions’ proposed route, according to Harris.

In the town hall, action items for residents included calling on local officials to enact ordinances to protect landowners from pipelines.

Sue Miller took note.

“I want to take time to look at our existing ordinances, talk to our planning and zoning department, talk with the Shelby County representatives,” she said. “I have a copy of their ordinances, and I want to compare theirs to ours. But it’s just a good opportunity to get my arms around this and move it forward.”

Ava Auen-Ryan with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, a non-profit, non-partisan organization, highlighted anti-pipeline legislation proposed in Iowa.

An anti-pipeline bill HF 565 is currently in the Iowa Legislature. However, the deadline to advance it out of the commerce committee is quickly approaching. That date is by March 31.