Capital Clicks

Pipeline opponents protest Rastetter at rural forum

By: - December 2, 2021 6:35 pm

About a dozen carbon pipeline opponents protested the presence of Bruce Rastetter in Mankato, Minnesota, where the Summit Agricultural Group chief was set to speak. (Photo by Emma Schmit/Food & Water Watch)

It’s wrong for the federal government to help fund a proposed carbon pipeline that will enrich its builders at the expense of landowners, according to a group of pipeline opponents who protested Summit Carbon Solutions’ chief executive on Thursday.

Bruce Rastetter, who helms Summit Agricultural Group in Alden, was set to speak that day at GreenSeam’s annual Rural Forum in Mankato, Minnesota. The event is meant to connect “public leaders and a wide range of attendees from the agricultural sector,” according to GreenSeam’s website.

The group supports agriculture in southern Minnesota and far northern Iowa.

Summit has proposed a pipeline system in Iowa that would span more than 700 miles in 30 counties. It would transport carbon dioxide from about 30 biofuels plants and inject it in the ground in North Dakota. It’s billed as a key part of an effort by ethanol producers and others to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

But it also requires an untold number of landowners to allow Summit to trench the pipeline through their properties, which is known to reduce crop yields in agricultural land. Further, some worry about the public health effects of a leak in the pipeline.

It’s possible reluctant landowners will be forced to grant easements to Summit for the pipeline.

“Our land, our lives are a damn sight more important than the balance of Bruce Rastetter’s bank account,” Emma Schmit, an organizer for Food & Water Watch who lives in Rockwell City, said during the Thursday protest. “We will not bear all the risks while Bruce and his Wall Street cronies make off with the reward.”

Schmit worries that the project will be supported with federal funding from an infrastructure bill that was signed by President Joe Biden in November and earmarks billions of dollars for carbon-capture initiatives.

The Summit pipeline is one of two that are under consideration by the Iowa Utilities Board. The other, proposed by Navigator CO2 in Texas, would stretch 900 miles in Iowa from the northwest corner to the southeast corner.

“I’ve seen evidence of what this does to the land,” said Craig Woodward, who owns land in Cerro Gordo County that might be affected by a pipeline. “It is not pretty. … I can’t think of any landowner that would want to have a hazardous, liquid pipeline buried on their land.”

Navigator recently began a series of community meetings to discuss its plans with residents in each county where its pipeline will run.

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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.