Carbon pipeline company reveals first potential eminent domain requests

The initial regulatory filings document the potential requests in four counties

By: - August 8, 2022 3:16 pm

Summit Carbon Solutions’ pipeline would be built across large areas of western and northern Iowa. (Iowa Utilities Board filing)

Summit Carbon Solutions on Monday submitted its first lists of properties for which it would seek eminent domain if landowners continue to oppose its pipeline plans, according to state regulatory filings.

The Ames-based company wants to build a 680-mile pipeline in western and northern Iowa to transport captured carbon dioxide from a dozen ethanol plants to be pumped deep into the ground in North Dakota. Those ethanol companies would get substantial federal tax credits for curbing their greenhouse gas emissions and potentially higher prices for their fuels in certain states, and they would pay Summit to dispose of their carbon.

The Summit project has the potential to traverse about a third of Iowa’s counties. On Monday, the company listed land parcels in four of them — Chickasaw, Greene, Plymouth and Pottawattamie — that might be subject to eminent domain.

The company is required by the Iowa Utilities Board to submit the lists before the board schedules a final hearing on the company’s permit request to build a hazardous liquid pipeline. Summit is one of three companies that have proposed such a project in the past year in Iowa. It filed its petition for a permit in January.

“This transformative project will open new economic opportunities for ethanol producers, strengthen the agricultural marketplace for farmers, and generate tens of millions of dollars in new property tax revenues that will help local communities support critical priorities like our schools,” said Jesse Harris, Summit’s director of public affairs.

Company secures permission for 40% of route

Summit has inked about 1,200 voluntary easements in Iowa with about 700 landowners for permission to build its pipeline on their properties, the company said. That represents about 40% of the total route in the state, said Courtney Ryan, a spokesperson for the company.

On Monday, the company filed its first group of potential eminent domain requests and indicated it might not include all of the eventual requests for the listed counties.

“As we are still in active discussions with many landowners, we will likely file an early batch and a later batch for most counties,” the company wrote to the IUB.

The first group includes 42 land parcels possessed by 25 landowners or groups of landowners.

It’s unclear when Summit will finish submitting those lists for other counties. The IUB weighs each eminent domain request individually during the final permit hearing, which is set to eventually be held in Fort Dodge for days or weeks.

Proponents of the pipelines say they will ensure the longer-term viability of ethanol production by making it more environmentally friendly. More than half of the state’s corn is used to produce the fuel.

Opponents of the pipelines worry about construction-related damage to farmland and the potential safety risks from pipeline leaks. They argue that it’s wrong for government to force landowners to allow the carbon pipelines on their properties for the benefit of private companies.

“Summit’s allegations of only having 40% of the route it wants to build its experimental hazardous pipeline is a shockingly low number after the tens of millions of dollars it has spent and after the lobbying efforts and backroom deals compromising Iowa politicians,” Brian Jorde, a lawyer who represents landowners who oppose the Summit project, said last week in a press release. “Their announcement is underwhelming and shows where the vast majority of Iowans are on this taxpayer funded land grab — solidly opposed.”

Properties listed by Summit  as potential targets for eminent domain:

Chickasaw County
— Agvantage FS, Waverly
— MDK, New Hampton
— Kathleen and Randall Mitchell, New Hampton
— John Mueterthies, New Hampton

Greene County
— Diocese of Sioux City, Sioux City
— Estate of Ronald Lehman and Patricia Lehman, Jefferson
— Rowles Farms, Oxford
— Elizabeth Tribble, Marion; Gunion Family Trust, Marion; Mark Gunion, Bremerton, Washington; Robert and Mavis Busch, Grand Junction; and Lisa Gunion-Rinker, Marion
— Tronchetti Family Trust, Jefferson

Plymouth County
— Steven and Lynn Breuer, Le Mars; Nicholas and Carmen Breuer, Merrill; and Kevin Breuer, Le Mars
— G and G Land, Sioux City
— Mark and Jean Nilles, Le Mars
— Kenneth and Susan Orban, Le Mars
— John Stoltze Revocable Living Trust, Hinton
— Clair and Linda Thoreson, Hinton
— Tritz Properties, Le Mars
— David, Richard and Randy Vanderkooi, Merrill

Pottawattamie County
— 4J Land and Cattle, Gillette, Wyoming
— James Beatty and Jan Westerman-Beatty, Surprise, Arizona; and Mary Beatty, Hancock
— David, Emily and John Eyler, Carson
— Loess Trails Farms, Estero, Florida
— Kearney Family Farms, Des Moines; and David Niemann, Avoca
— Slagle Land and Cattle, Crete, Nebraska
— David and Tami Wright, Oakland

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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.