JAMES Q. LYNCH
DES MOINES — Concerned about the lack of action, opponents of the use of eminent domain to build carbon capture pipelines across Iowa will hold their own public hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.
According to Jessica Mazour of the Sierra Club, landowners are reporting threats and harassment from interests promoting the construction of three proposed pipelines to transport carbon dioxide from Iowa ethanol plants to underground sequestration sites. in neighboring states.
The Sierra Club and its partners will host the audience from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Capitol rotunda.
Gov. Kim Reynolds and lawmakers have been invited to hear from landowners directly impacted by the Summit, Navigator and ADM pipelines, Mazour said Monday.
Reynolds has so far refused to meet with those who oppose the use of eminent domain, Mazour said. The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
The Iowa House has approved an amendment to a budget bill that would prevent the Iowa Utilities Board from scheduling hearings on the use of eminent domain until February 1, 2023. The amendment was approved at a voice vote. So there is no record of which lawmakers supported it or not.
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The sponsor, Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, said he wanted to protect landowners from the threat of eminent domain until the Legislature is back in session next year.
But landowners report that agents interested in pipelines call them more than a dozen times a day, repeatedly showing up at their homes and workplaces to urge them to grant pipeline easements on their property. property, Mazour said.
The amendment to House File 2565 “does not remove the threat of eminent domain, and landowners are going to say loud and clear tomorrow that they still feel eminent domain is under threat,” she said Monday. Landowners want to tell lawmakers “we’re glad you’ve finally started listening, but that’s okay”.
Summit Carbon Solutions, which proposed one of the pipelines, will not participate in the hearing, where it expects one side of the issue to be presented. Instead, he plans to continue engaging landowners as he has since briefings were held in the fall of 2021, according to LS2’s Jesse Harris, who represents Summit.
“Our focus is where it has been since the briefings, which is we want to meet with the landowners, we want to review the project, we want to hear what their questions are, their concerns and continue the voluntary easement negotiation process,” said Harris.
Other legislation dealing with the use of eminent domain was introduced this year, but none of these bills made progress. In the Senate, the Senate 2160 file was assigned to a subcommittee, but it did not recommend approval.
In the House, at least three bills were introduced and referred to the state government committee headed by Kaufmann. None were heard by a subcommittee.
Kaufmann modified SF 2022 to language similar to what was added to HF 2565.
In general, environmental groups and landowners supported limits on the use of eminent domain. Pipeline companies and some unions have opposed the limits.
Mazour said the Sierra Club, which has about 6,500 members in Iowa, expects a crowd at the hearing because “this is our chance to say ‘you need to listen to the people who are directly affected and not just thinking you know what’s best for landowners. .’”
Summit is monitoring legislative activity that could affect the regulatory process, but “in my mind, it’s way too early to have conversations about eminent domain,” Harris said. “It’s about finding voluntary agreements with landowners that benefit them and also allow our project to move forward.”