Senate committee declines to consider eminent domain bill

By: - February 16, 2022 5:45 pm

Summit Carbon Solutions provided an initial map to the Iowa Utilities Board that showed a proposed liquid carbon pipeline that would span more than 700 miles in Iowa. (Iowa Utilities Board)

A proposal in the Iowa Senate that would have prevented private companies from using eminent domain to build liquid carbon pipelines on farmland appears doomed for this legislative session.

Senate File 2160 was recommended by a Senate commerce subcommittee on Tuesday and was on the agenda of the full committee Wednesday but was abruptly pulled from consideration.

Sen. Jason Schultz, R-Schleswig, the chairperson of the committee who controls the agenda, said there was not enough support among his fellow committee members to put it to a vote.

“I’m afraid the bill is dead for the year,” he told Iowa Capital Dispatch. “I’m disappointed it did not have the support needed to move out of committee. I appreciate the amount of work and research the subcommittee did to get the issue this far.”

The bill had considerable support from farmers and conservationists who attended the Tuesday hearing. It was advanced by the subcommittee despite its Republican members’ trepidations about the potential for unintended effects on non-pipeline projects.

Sen. Craig Williams, R-Manning, and Sen. Mike Klimesh, R-Spillville, both said the bill needed modification.

The bill needs approval from the committee to meet a Friday deadline to remain viable this session. Another committee meeting has not been scheduled.

Sen. Jeff Taylor, R-Sioux Center, who proposed the bill, conceded Tuesday it was unlikely to become law for lack of support.

Lobbyists who represent Summit Carbon Solutions — one of three companies that have announced intentions to build nearly 2,000 miles of liquid carbon pipelines across the state — said Tuesday the bill would halt the project, to their detriment of tens of millions of dollars they have already spent pursuing it.

Opponents of the pipelines say they do not meet the public benefit threshold that might force farmers to provide easements for their construction, that the construction might irreparably damage their farmland, and that pipeline leaks pose a significant health risk.

“I know there was an issue today that we were looking forward to voting on as a committee that was pulled, and the opportunity didn’t come forward,” Sen. Tony Bisignano, D-Des Moines, told those who attended the Wednesday committee meeting. “You drove a long ways, and you care, and I see century farm signs. And so, I respect what you’re here for, and thank you very much for being an advocate for what you are.”

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Jared Strong
Jared Strong

Senior reporter Jared Strong has written about Iowans and the important issues that affect them for more than 15 years, previously for the Carroll Times Herald and the Des Moines Register.