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Environmentalists, landowners protest carbon sequestration pipelines at Iowa Capitol

About 250 people gathered Tuesday at the Iowa Capitol in the latest effort to prevent companies from using eminent domain to build carbon sequestration pipelines.

The group included landowners, politicians and activists, including those who said the Iowa House’s action last week needs strengthening. Before passing the appropriations bill, HF 2565, on Thursday, the Iowa House passed an amendment to prevent the Iowa Utilities Board from scheduling a hearing before February 1, 2023, for a carbon sequestration pipeline company requesting eminent domain.

Science and Environmental Health Network Executive Director Carolyn Raffensperger said at the rally that the Summit project is not a legitimate use of eminent domain and eminent domain should be used solely for matters of public convenience and necessity, not Summit’s and Navigator’s gains through the pipeline projects. The pipeline is dangerous, she added.

“Environmentalists, landowners and farmers, we don’t often see eye to eye. But we do on this,” she said.

Shelby County Supervisor Steve Kenkel said there should be more local control of the projects.

Sen. Jeff Taylor, R-Sioux City, said the IUB shouldn’t be able to use eminent domain for private companies and that that’s an unconstitutional and unethical application. He said the pipelines aren’t “public use,” a requirement for using eminent domain; it’s not government that’s laying the pipeline, and the substance traveling through the pipeline isn’t traveling to Iowans’ homes.

“Whether this is something that is going to actually to benefit the public in some way in the long run or whether it’s just a boondoggle; that’s a matter of opinion,” he said. “But you as landowners should get to decide what happens to your own land. I mean, that doesn’t seem controversial to me.”

He said he supports the amendment on HF 2565, but the state needs something more permanent and protective. There should be more restrictions on land agents and the moratorium sunset should be at the end, not the beginning, of the 2023 legislative session so legislators have more time to take action, Taylor said.

Sen. Dennis Guth, R-Klemme, told The Center Square in a phone interview Tuesday that he supports the HF 2565 amendment and believes that if legislators make it a priority, a Feb. 1 sunset would be sufficient time to address the IUB dilemma in 2023.

“It would be unusual, but we can certainly do that,” he said.

Guth’s farm is within a couple miles of the planned route of the pipeline. He said he saw protestors rallying against the public hearing who were seeking work from the companies. He asked a protestor whether the jobs pipeline projects may provide are worth sacrifices Iowans would be making if the pipelines are laid.

Taylor had proposed SF 2160, a bill to ban private companies’ use of eminent domain. It died in the Commerce Committee in February, despite the senators advancing it in a Feb. 15 meeting. Guth said the bill didn’t advance because there wasn’t enough support in the Republican Caucus and said some of his bills have been dismissed from committee agendas without comment. He said many ethanol plants support the carbon sequestration projects.

Summit Carbon Solutions has signed easements on more than 100 miles of the proposed route in Iowa and is finalizing 70 more miles in the state within a few months, Summit said in a statement, Iowa’s News Now reported Tuesday.

HF 2565 is currently in the Senate Appropriations Committee. The Iowa legislative session is set to end April 19.

This article was originally posted on Environmentalists, landowners protest carbon sequestration pipelines at Iowa Capitol

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