Sioux City, IA
Sheldon, IA

Proposed CO2 Pipelines Aim to Cross Through NW Iowa Farms What Are Your Rights as a Landowner?

February 11, 2022 | By

To build a hazardous liquid pipeline, companies must obtain a permit from the Iowa Utilities Board under Iowa Code § 479B. Pipeline companies granted a pipeline permit shall be vested with the right of eminent domain, to the extent necessary and as prescribed and approved by the Board.” Iowa Code § 479B.16. In making its decision, the Board will weigh whether the pipeline will promote the public convenience and necessity.” Iowa Code § 479B.9. This is a broad standard that favors pipeline companies over landowners. 

In the previous case involving the Dakota Access pipeline, the Iowa Supreme Court held that the Iowa Legislature had vested the Board with the authority to interpret the statutory meaning of public convenience and necessity.” The Court also upheld that the Utilities Board’s balancing test could include public benefits inside and outside of Iowa” including generalized efforts to reduce the effects of climate change and economic benefits in the form of new jobs and tax revenues throughout the state. These widespread” and aggregate” benefits are then weighed against the individual harms of each affected landowner. Puntenney v. Iowa Utilities Bd., 928 N.W.2d 829, 834 (Iowa 2019). 

Based on Iowa’s current statues and caselaw, it is very likely that the Utility Board will grant these companies the right to acquire easements through eminent domain in exchange for just compensation” if they are unable to obtain the easements through voluntary agreements. Landowners should operate under the assumption that the Summit Carbon and Navigator pipelines will be permitted, barring dramatic changes in circumstance. 

If you have been approached by either Summit or Navigator and offered a voluntary easement agreement, contact our offices so that we can help you understand their proposed terms and negotiate together with you to ensure that your rights and interests are protected. Working with our experienced agriculture and contract attorneys to negotiate and draft a customized voluntary agreement will serve to better protect your land and its productivity, especially compared to the default terms of an easement forcibly granted by eminent domain. 

Our articles are intended to provide occasional general summaries on new developments in Federal and State law and regulations that we believe might be of interest to our clients. The articles should not be considered opinions of the Heidman Law Firm, P.L.LC. and are not intended to provide legal advice. Readers should not under any circumstance act upon the information in this publication without seeking specific professional counsel. The Heidman Law Firm will be pleased to provide additional details regarding any article upon request. Feel free to contact us at through our website, or by phone at 7122558838.