DES MOINES, Iowa — A new plan released by about two dozen Iowa House Republicans Thursday could make it more difficult for private companies to use eminent domain in the construction of carbon sequestration pipelines.
Representative Steve Holt, a Denison Republican, announced the plan that he believes could be a compromise. There have been ongoing disagreements about pipeline plans that ethanol producers claim will protect their industry in the years ahead and land owners who don’t think that a private, for-profit company should be able to force access to their land.
The pipelines would carry carbon produced when plants make ethanol and then carry them underground through several states before connecting to an underground storage tank out of state.
“I fundamentally do not believe that government should use the power and the blunt force of eminent domain to take other people’s property when it’s a private economic development project,” Holt said. He added that he doesn’t see carbon sequestration pipeline projects as “an essential service.”
Holt doesn’t believe that Republicans would support a full ban on the use of eminent domain for carbon sequestration pipelines. He is supporting a plan that, among other requirements, would make a pipeline company reach voluntary agreements with landowners covering at least 90% of the pipeline’s path through Iowa before it could use eminent domain for resistant landowners. It would also require the company to get approval for the pipeline from all other states where the project would travel before it could get permission in Iowa. And the project must wait for the new federal guidelines regarding carbon sequestration pipelines.
Governor Kim Reynolds has not publicly called for any additional protections for property owners. When asked if she could support the new proposal from House Republicans, she said, “Agriculture is critical to the state of Iowa. It’s critical to the foundation of our economy. And I’m going to continue to look for opportunity to add value to what we make and make sure that it’s sustainable and that they can continue to operate and feed the world …feed and fuel the world and that’s what we do in Iowa.”
Summit Carbon Solutions, the Ames-based company owned by businessman and prominent Republican donor Bruce Rastetter released this statement in response to the proposal:
“Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with 1,075 Iowa landowners who have signed 1,875 voluntary easement agreements accounting for two-thirds of our proposed route in the state. This overwhelming level of support is a clear reflection that Iowa landowners view the project as critical to supporting the state’s most important industries – ethanol and agriculture. Without carbon capture projects, Iowa’s ethanol industry will lose $10 billion annually and the loss of production will cut one billion bushels of demand for Iowa corn.
With all this at stake, our team will continue to meet with policymakers to highlight the critical role carbon capture projects will play to ensuring the long-term viability of the ethanol industry and the future of our ag economy. A full two years after we announced our carbon capture project, we remain hopeful that legislature will not change the regulatory rules in the middle of the game particularly with the overwhelming level of support we have among Iowa landowners.”Summit Carbon Solutions