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Iowa controversy over proposed carbon dioxide pipeline; use of eminent domain rankles landowners

A proposal for a pipeline in five Midwestern states spanning more than 2,000 miles
Posted at 7:34 PM, Mar 25, 2022

EMERSON, Iowa (KMTV) — Summit Carbon Solutions is proposing to build a carbon dioxide pipeline dubbed "The Midwest Carbon Express" that would connect more than 30 ethanol plants in five Midwestern states: North and South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska, spanning more than 2000 miles. The pipeline would run through Iowa for more than 680 miles.

Attorney Brian Jorde is representing landowners opposed to the Summit pipeline.

"The problem is, the use of eminent domain, to take the land of farmers, homeowners so that they can make private profits off this project," Jorde said.

"When I was a little child, my parents gave up some of their farm ground so the new Highway 34 could be built. That's obviously something that benefits the entire community. It's for the better good, the greater good, but this project is basically being proposed so a well-connected private corporation could make billions of dollars," Montgomery County resident Jan Norris said.

It's a $4.5 billion project that cuts through Iowa farmland from Lyon and Sioux Counties to Fremont and Story. It would run through 18 miles in Montgomery County.

Montgomery County Supervisor Chairperson Mark Peterson has reservations about production.

"You're going to disrupt the soil structure, you can ruin tile lines, all sorts of infrastructure like that, plow through terraces," Peterson said.

3 News Now got a statement from Justin Kirchhoff, the President of Summit Ag Investors:

"Summit Carbon Solutions carbon capture and storage project will open new economic opportunities for ethanol producers and maintain a strong marketplace for corn growers. As a partnership with more than 30 ethanol plants across the Midwest, including 12 in Iowa and six in Nebraska, this project is a critical step in bolstering industries that are critical to our regional economy and helping them remain competitive and profitable long-term."

Summit Carbon Solutions is also seeking easements, which give one-time payments to property owners.

"Yet they get the rights forever till the end of time to make billions of dollars utilizing their land. That's not fair, they should pay annually, at the very least," Jorde said.

For Norris, the fight feels personal.

"It's not just a business to most people — this is their livelihood, but this is also who they are, and you can't just take that away from somebody," Norris said.

Summit has filed a pipeline permit application in Iowa with the Iowa Utilities Board. Last night, legislation was passed in the House of Representatives to delay a decision by the Iowa Utilities Board to allow the use of eminent domain for a pipeline until next February.

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