116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Summit Carbon Solutions wants permission to use eminent domain to build a carbon dioxide pipeline through 30 Iowa counties in Northern and Western Iowa, according to a permit application filed with the Iowa Utilities Board.
This means the Ames-based company doesn’t have all the voluntary easements from property owners to build 681 miles of pipeline, and now is asking the board for permission to use private property with payment, but against owners’ wishes.
“It is uncertain at this time whether and to what extent the right of eminent domain will be required,” Summit said in the application, which was filed Friday. The company says it lists which properties it plans to condemn in an exhibit, but that exhibit is not included with the public filing.
The board will decide whether the CO2 pipeline — designed to transport the greenhouse gas from ethanol and fertilizer plants to an underground sequestration site in North Dakota — fulfills a public use necessary to qualify for using eminent domain.
Summit is one of three corporate groups — the others are Navigator CO2 Ventures and ADM/Wolf Carbon Solutions — that want to build CO2 pipelines through Iowa to underground sequestration sites in neighboring states.
The companies hope to gain billions of dollars in federal tax credits for carbon sequestration and to share in the proceeds for higher ethanol sales on the West Coast if Midwest ethanol plants can reduce their carbon footprints.
The Summit pipeline would span five states — Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota — and remove about 12 million tons of C02 from the atmosphere annually to an underground cavity for it to calcify and become part of the rock, according to the company.
The carbon steel pipe would range in size from 4 to 24 inches in diameter and be built at least 4 feet underground, the application states. The pipe would be installed with three methods: open-cut trench, boring and a horizontal directional drill.
The route would include 645 secondary highway crossings as well as railroad crossings, the application states.
Summit would gather CO2 as a gas at ethanol plants, pressurize it so it becomes liquid and then transport it through the pipeline at pressures ranging from 1,200 to 2,150 pounds of force per square inch. Summit would sequester between 8 and 12 million metric tons of CO2 per year, Chris Hill, director of environmental and permitting, told The Gazette last month. The company is collecting information now to decide how many injection wells it will need in North Dakota.
The Net Zero America report by Princeton University says that for the United State to reach net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050, part of the solution is underground sequestration. But some environmental groups and scientists say it would be better to capture CO2 from industries — like steel or jet fuel production — with greater longevity than ethanol.
Environmental groups spoke out Tuesday against the Summit pipeline application.
“Since these pipelines have been announced, I have yet to speak with a single landowner who is supportive of the project,” Jessica Mazour, conservation program coordinator for the Sierra Club Iowa Chapter, said in a statement.
“Despite what Summit wants the public and our state legislators to believe, the opposition is widespread and diverse. We are Republicans, Democrats, farmers, environmentalists, young, old and everything in between. When unlikely allies can come together like this, we know this isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue — it’s a right or a wrong issue. It’s pretty clear this is just plain wrong.”
The group pointed to dozens of opposition letters filed by citizens as well as 15 county Boards of Supervisors filing formal objections to the use of eminent domain for the project.
The Linn County Board of Supervisors has opposed use of eminent domain for the Navigator project, which is slated to pass through Linn and several other Eastern Iowa counties. Navigator has said it expects to file its permit application in late spring or early summer.
Summit’s leadership team is well-connected to prominent Republicans and Democrats.
- Bruce Rastetter, a former president of the Iowa Board of Regents and a donor to Republican candidates, leads its parent company, Summit Agricultural Group.
- Jake Ketzner, a former chief of staff to Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, is the vice president of government and public affairs for Summit Carbon Solutions.
- Terry Branstad, the six-term former Republican governor of Iowa and former U.S. ambassador to China, is senior policy adviser. As governor, he appointed two of the three Iowa Utilities Board members and chose Reynolds as his lieutenant governor.
- Jess Vilsack, the son of U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, a Democrat, is Summit’s general counsel, Mother Jones reported earlier this month.
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