Permit process advances for Summit’s second Iowa pipeline

By: - July 5, 2023 5:52 pm

A 31-mile segment of recently proposed carbon dioxide pipeline would expand the footprint of Summit Carbon Solutions’ project. (Image courtesy of IUB)

State regulators have scheduled public meetings in two northern Iowa counties to discuss a proposed 31-mile addition to a carbon dioxide pipeline.

Summit Carbon Solutions has been working for nearly two years on its original petition for a 680-mile pipeline through the northwestern part of the state. To avoid a likely delay of the project, the company has begun a new permit process for the extension instead of modifying its original proposal.

The new branch would go 31 miles through Floyd and Mitchell counties to connect to an ethanol plant near the Minnesota border.

The Sierra Club of Iowa, which opposes the pipeline, has asked the Iowa Utilities Board to consolidate the two processes. State rules allow such consolidations when the requests are similar, but they also allow for two separate dockets, the IUB has said.

The board has not ruled on the Sierra Club’s request, but it recently advanced the second permit process by scheduling meetings in the two affected counties on Aug. 8. The meetings represent the initial step of the process.

One is set for noon at the Cedar River Complex in Osage for Mitchell County, and the other is set for 6 p.m. at the Gil & Donna White Youth Enrichment Center at the Floyd County Fairgrounds west of Charles City.

If weather prevents public participation that day, the meetings can be delayed to Aug. 16.

Summit has said it wants a decision on its first permit by the end of the year. A final evidentiary hearing, which initially was expected to start in October, was set in August.

More ‘fast-track’ opposition

A growing group of state legislators have publicly bemoaned the “fast-track handling of the proposed Summit Pipeline.”

In a letter to the IUB this week submitted by Rep. Steven Holt, a total of 15 Republican state representatives and senators said expediting the permit process will harm the rights of hundreds of thousands of residents. Holt, a Denison Republican, shepherded legislation through the Iowa House this year to limit eminent domain for the pipeline. His bill did not get a vote in the Senate.

“We need to err on the side of due process and fairness,” the letter said. “‘Due process’ means nothing if it does not include notice and an opportunity to be heard. Moving up hearings has the effect of reducing due process, as does eliminating the ability of landholders to reply to Summit.”

That follows a similar letter submitted last month by Rep. Helena Hayes, a New Sharon Republican, on the behalf of a total of 11 Republican state legislators. Two of those also signed onto Holt’s letter.

Sen. Rocky De Witt, R-Lawton, also filed an objection to the project because he opposes eminent domain for “a pipeline that does not benefit taxpayers.”

Summit has said Iowa’s process is longer and more deliberate than in other states. The company noted that even though it started the permit process in Iowa before other states, it’s likely that the processes in some of the other states will conclude earlier.

Summit’s pipeline would span more than 2,000 miles in five states. It would transport carbon dioxide captured at ethanol plants to North Dakota to be pumped deep underground.

Summit on Friday filed its eminent domain list with the IUB that shows it has not obtained voluntary land easements for 1,036 parcels. That represents about 30% of the route.

The eminent domain requests are typically considered individually by the board during the evidentiary hearing and have the potential to go on for months.

No final hearings have been scheduled for two other carbon dioxide pipeline proposals by Navigator CO2 Ventures and Wolf Carbon Solutions.

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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.