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Iowa lawmaker files pipeline objection with Iowa Utilities Board
Denison Republican says he doesn’t think eminent domain should be used for CO2 pipelines
A western Iowa lawmaker who sponsored a bill to restrict development of carbon dioxide pipelines has filed formal objections with the state board that has the final say over whether those projects proceed.
Rep. Steven Holt, R-Denison, filed objections Monday with the Iowa Utilities Board to oppose the pipelines proposed by Summit Carbon Solutions and Navigator CO2 Ventures.
In his two-page letter on House of Representatives stationery, Holt said he does not think the board should grant the companies the right to use eminent domain to force the sale of easements to build the pipelines.
“One of our most fundamental liberties as Americans is the right of private property,” Holt wrote. “To protect this fundamental right, eminent domain should only be used for public use (essential government services), and the CO2 pipeline does not meet that definition.
“This pipeline is not an essential government service for public use, but rather it is a private economic development project.”
Three companies have applied to the board for state permits to gather CO2 from Iowa ethanol plants, transport it through underground pipelines and sequester the liquefied gas underground — a process that makes the firms eligible for federal tax credits.
Summit proposes a five-state pipeline, with 680 miles in northern and western Iowa, that would end at a sequestration site in North Dakota. The Utilities Board has said the hearing on that project will be between October and January.
Navigator wants to build a 1,300-mile underground pipeline, with 900 Iowa miles stretching from the northwest to southeast corners of the state.
Wolf Carbon Solutions, in its application last month, said it will not seek eminent domain for 95 miles of pipeline from Cedar Rapids to southern Illinois, with an offshoot going to Clinton.
Holt was the lead sponsor of House File 368, which would require a pipeline company secure 90 percent of its land through voluntary easements before being granted eminent domain.
The legislation would prohibit the utilities board from granting a pipeline permit until federal regulators provide new safety guidelines — which could take a year or more. HF 368 was passed by a subcommittee before a March 2 deadline, but similar legislation in the Iowa Senate died.
Holt said Monday the timing of his objections wasn’t related to any concerns about or changes in the legislation.
“I’d been planning to do an objection since the beginning of the session, but I’ve just been so busy,” he said. “We’ve always known it would be a challenge to find a legislative solution.”
The Utilities Board, a three-person, governor-appointed board, has no guidelines for how to decide whether to approve an eminent domain request, Holt said. He hopes it gives special consideration to the rights of private property owners.
“I do not believe that the blunt force of government should be allowed to be used by private individuals seeking eminent domain to seize other people’s property for their own economic benefit,” he wrote.
Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, filed an objection with the board in October over Navigator’s proposal to waive some requirements over topsoil testing and tilling after pipeline construction.
The company rescinded that request days later after “constructive feedback from landowners,” the Capital Dispatch reported Nov. 2.
Holt Letter by Gazetteonline on Scribd
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