March 14, 2022 | By Bryan E. Shusterman
On February 1, Summit Carbon Solutions filed its first permit application with the Iowa Utilities Board and hopes to begin construction as early as 2023. With the application, more details about the proposed pipeline have been released. The carbon steel pipe would range in size from 4 to 24 inches in diameter and would be built at least 4 feet underground. The application states that the pipe would be installed with three methods: open-cut trench, boring and a horizontal directional drill.
With this permit application filed, Summit has begun the administrative process needed to apply for eminent domain rights where it cannot reach voluntary agreements with local landowners. The use of eminent domain for the Summit and Navigator pipelines has already been widely contested. Iowa’s chapter of the Sierra Club has reported that 15 county Boards of Supervisors have already filed formal objections to the use of eminent domain for the project. In addition, on February 1, 2022, State Senator Jeff Taylor introduced a bill — SF2160 – that would ban the use of eminent domain for private projects on agricultural land.
While these new developments are promising for landowners who do not want to grant an easement for the pipelines, it is unclear whether the necessary resistance will arrive in time. While we will likely see new litigation on this issue under the balancing test as applied in Putenney v. Iowa Utilities Bd. (2019), it remains likely that eminent domain will eventually be granted for these projects.
Putenney allows the Utilities Board to weigh and consider benefits inside and outside the state of Iowa including the environmental benefits of sequestering CO2 (Summit projects between 8 and 12 million metric tons per year), jobs added (Summit projects 17,000 construction jobs and 460 permanent positions in Iowa), and additional tax revenue. These combined projected benefits will then be compared against the harms suffered by the landowners.
Again, 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.
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