Prominent area a looming issue with proposed carbon capture pipelines | Local


Summit Carbon Solutions has started work on securing easements in northern Iowa for its Midwest Carbon Express pipeline project, but what options do landowners who do not wish to participate have if the project continues?

This is a concern raised by Paul Gogerty, an Osage landowner who owns land in Hardin County that would be affected by the pipeline. Gogerty expressed concerns about the potential use of the eminent domain by Summit Carbon, which would allow the company to build the pipeline on land, potentially without the consent of the landowner.

The eminent domain is when a government agency can acquire private property for public use, with compensation to the landowners involved.

The Midwest Carbon Express is a carbon emissions pipeline proposed by Summit Carbon Solutions that, if built, would be the longest such pipeline in the world, according to Summit Carbon, spanning five states and totaling over 2,000 miles. .

The project’s proposed route will span 705.3 miles in Iowa, including 27.38 miles in Cerro Gordo County, according to Summit Carbon Solutions. The project will also pass through parts of Hancock, Floyd, Franklin and Wright counties.

Summit Carbon could be granted the eminent domain right as a private enterprise and not as a government entity. It would come from the Iowa Utilities Board, which has that power under the Iowa code.

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The statutes of the IUB allow the board of directors to grant eminent domain power to any “person” who successfully applies for a power plant certificate, power line franchise or pipeline license, depending on the. IUB website. The person does not necessarily have to be a public service within the meaning of the law, but the project must serve a public purpose.

Gogerty, who admits he’s generally in favor of the project, worries landowners won’t have a say in pipeline discussions.

“To me, it’s a bit of a stretch to grant that kind of power to a group of individuals at the expense of the landowner,” Gogerty said. “What it does is it takes the ability of the landowner to opt out of the deal; if you want to opt out, you can’t.”

Summit Carbon says it wants to work amicably with landowners and get as many easements as possible.

“Our hope is that we can secure as much if not all of this through voluntary easements,” said Jesse Harris, spokesperson for Summit Carbon Solutions.

Harris also said it was still very early in the process for the Midwest Carbon Express, and too early to discuss a prominent area.

While Summit Carbon could secure the majority of the necessary land through easements, Jennifer Easler of the Office of the Consumer Advocate for Utilities notes that Summit Carbon is unlikely to be able to secure all of the land. necessary only through easements.

“The company strives to obtain easements voluntarily; it would seek eminent domain to the extent it needs it if it cannot enter into agreements with landowners when it needs an easement.” , Easler said. “The pipeline is so big that it would be difficult to voluntarily obtain all of these easements.”

Another concern raised by Gogerty is the potentially unfair playing field having a prominent domain gives Summit Carbon during the easement negotiation process.

Gogerty notes that if Summit Carbon obtains the right to use a prominent domain, it will have an unfair advantage in negotiations over the price of the easements, as it will be able to acquire the land regardless of what the owner wishes.

“In my mind, this significantly skews the free market for the price of these easements for those who choose to enter it,” Gogerty said. “With the use of a prominent domain, the seller is at a great disadvantage compared to the buyer … It is an uneven playing field.”

This concern has been somewhat validated by Easler, who admits that Summit Carbon has an advantage in negotiations with landowners.

“The pipeline would probably have the best negotiating position, I wouldn’t disagree with that,” Easler said. “But at those meetings, they made it known that they were prepared to negotiate to some extent.”

Summit Carbon maintains that all negotiations with landowners will be “fair” and that the potential for eminent domain will not impact easement prices for landowners.

“Our hope is that by talking to the landowners, we can define the compensation program and start negotiations,” said Harris. “So if they feel like we’re not getting there, they can come back with a counter offer and we can see if we can find a place that is acceptable to both parties.”

Currently, Summit Carbon does not have the appropriate license to enforce the eminent domain, as the organization has to wait 30 days after its last public information meeting, scheduled for Friday, before it can apply for a pipeline license, according to Melissa Myers of the Iowa Public Services Board.

During the pipeline authorization process, Summit Carbon may apply for the right to use a prominent domain.

During the Cerro Gordo County public briefing, Jake Ketzner, vice president of government and public affairs for Summit Carbon, said he believed that if the permit was granted, a prominent estate would be granted at the same time. time.

According to the IUB website, obtaining a prominent domain is not a given. The IUB has granted it seven times and refused once in the last 20 years of projects.

“Our hope is to seek voluntary easements with as many landowners as possible,” Ketzenr said. “If the IUB grants our license, my understanding is that eminent domain is something to go with it, but like I said, our goal is to seek out as many voluntary easements as possible.”

Meeting attendees had the opportunity to ask questions of Summit Carbon and the Iowa Utilities Board, and many voiced concerns about the project.

Harris said he expects Summit Carbon to file its pipeline license with the Iowa Utilities Board “in the near future.” Summit Carbon has already started discussions with landowners over easements and surveying in Cerro Gordo, Wright, Franklin and Floyd counties, among others.

Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with more than 30 ethanol plants in the five states, including Golden Grain Energy in Mason City.

The project aims to extract carbon dioxide that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere and divert it through pipelines for storage underground in North Dakota.

Summit Carbon Solutions has invested $ 4.5 billion in the project and estimates that it will be able to transport 12 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

The project aims to start construction in 2023 with the hope of being operational by 2024.

Summit Carbon isn’t the only company with a goal of building a carbon capture pipeline in the northern Iowa region. Navigator CO2 Ventures LLC recently announced that its Heartland Greenway carbon capture pipeline has been approved for development and construction by its board of directors. The Heartland Greenway is a carbon capture pipeline project that would span five states and travel approximately 1,300 miles. Preliminary maps also show he would be crossing northern Iowa.

Navigator carbon capture pipeline that would cross northern Iowa enters development phase

Navigator CO2 Ventures LLC has now started the process of obtaining the required permits to build the Heartland Greenway.

The company has yet to submit a proposed route to the Iowa Utilities Board, but officials provided an “informal snapshot” on Aug. 24, according to an article in the Storm Lake Times.

Zachary Dupont covers politics and business development for the Globe Gazette. You can reach him at 641-421-0533 or [email protected] Follow Zachary on Twitter at @ZachNDupont

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