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Pipeline's Path


Pipeline aerial view of burying it in a cornfield

It wasn’t a surprise. And it isn’t the last big decision ahead. But a ruling in one state is a step forward for a multi-billion dollar project that could spread through five states in the Upper Midwest and impact agriculture in several ways, including farmers’ land that is needed for a pathway.


On Tuesday, the Iowa Utilities Board, a three-person entity appointed by the governor, granted Summit Carbon Solutions -- an Ames, Iowa-based company -- the authority to build a carbon sequestration pipeline through the state.


“After weighing numerous factors for and against Summit Carbon’s petition, the Board found that the service to be provided by Summit Carbon will promote the public convenience and necessity,” the board’s ruling stated.



The pipeline would go through five states: Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.


Biofuels plants would send carbon dioxide emissions into the pipeline – instead of into the air – to eventually empty into an underground storage tank in North Dakota.


The company contends that the project “will put the ethanol produced at our 57 partner facilities on track to become a net-zero fuel by 2030. This will allow these plants to sell their product at a premium in the growing number of states and countries that have adopted low carbon fuel standards, as well as allow them access to emerging markets like sustainable aviation fuel.”



Summit lists 30 ethanol plants in Iowa that would connect to the pipeline. That is the most of the five states. South Dakota has 15 plants. Minnesota has seven. There are four plants identified in Nebraska and one in North Dakota.


The Iowa Utilities Board not only gave Summit the tentative approval to move ahead on the project, but it also gave the company the ability to request eminent domain that could force reluctant landowners to grant access to their property for the pipeline.


Summit contended that it has voluntary agreements with 75% of landowners who own property in the pipeline’s scheduled path. But that leaves more than 850 property owners who don’t have signed agreements where eminent domain could be involved.


A group of 30 Iowa Republican legislators, an attorney for some of the landowners, and the Iowa chapter of the Sierra Club all pledge to work to stop the project, despite the Iowa Utilities Board’s approval.


The Sierra Club and impacted landowners said that they plan to sue to stop the company from forcing access onto their property. And the legislators are looking at ways to take away a company’s ability to use eminent domain for a private project like a pipeline.


“The IUB (Iowa Utilities Board) ruled against Iowans, landowners, our environment and our communities,” said Jess Mazour of the Sierra Club Iowa in a statement. “This is far from over. We will appeal this decision and make our arguments in front of a fair decision maker.”


RELATED: A farmer in the pipeline’s path in Iowa said that she will refuse to grant access for the project on the land that she inherited from her grandmother. Watch that story from KCRG-TV here.  


The Iowa Utilities Board said that Summit can’t begin construction of its pipeline through the state until it gets the necessary agreements with the other states that are part of the project.

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