Iowa House passes bill delaying carbon pipeline eminent domain

Companies seeking to use eminent domain for carbon sequestration pipeline projects could not receive a state hearing until early next year, under a bill Iowa passed Thursday House.

The legislation is an attempt to allay the concerns of Iowa landowners about the potential use of eminent domain by companies that have proposed several major pipeline projects that would cross the state. Proponents said the measure would encourage the negotiation of voluntary agreements between companies and landowners while the legislature is not in session.

“An ongoing negotiation with the threat of eminent domain hanging over the head of a landowner is not a negotiation,” Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, said Thursday from the House floor. “What this does is provide certainty to landowners while we’re away, that the playing field for negotiations is a level playing field.”

Three companies are proposing to build pipelines through Iowa that would trap carbon emissions from ethanol and fertilizer plants and store them underground. Eminent domain powers would allow pipeline companies to condemn land needed to build their projects and force reluctant landowners to sell easements at “fair market value.”

Kaufmann, who had presented a similar separate proposal last week aimed at delaying eminent domain hearings, made the proposal as an amendment to the House Administration and Regulations Budget Bill, Home file 2565which finances several functions of the State.

Kaufmann’s amendment was added to the much larger bill through a voice vote, meaning lawmakers called their votes at the same time and no individual lawmaker votes were recorded. , either for or against the amendment. Lawmakers frequently request full, recorded votes on amendments, but have not done so with this proposal.

The underlying invoice past 60-30with all Republicans except Representative Brian Lohse, R-Bondurant, voting yes and all but seven Democrats voting no.

Eminent domain carbon pipelines make ‘strange bedfellows’

During the debate on Kaufmann’s amendment, Democrats offered mixed reactions to the proposal. Rep. Steve Hansen, D-Sioux City, said the legislation is akin to “a kick in the road” because none of the pipelines would be built within the next year.

But House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst, D-Windsor Heights, said she supports Kaufmann’s proposal and hopes it leads to a broader discussion about eminent domain and the potential impact of pipelines. . It’s a problem, she says, that creates “strange bedfellows.”

“Rep. Kaufmann and I are on the same side, and others are on different sides – it’s just very strange,” she said. “I think part of the problem here is that we as an organization haven’t addressed this in depth. We haven’t had the tough conversation.”

Kaufmann said he would be open to further discussion next year.

Continued: What we know about the three proposed carbon capture pipelines in Iowa

Under the legislation, which is now heading to the Senate, Kaufmann said the Iowa Utilities Board cannot schedule a hearing until Feb. 1 in which a carbon sequestration company seeks the right to use a domain. eminent for a project. The proposed moratorium would come into effect as soon as the bill becomes law.

“Negotiations can still continue. Meetings can still continue,” Kaufmann told reporters ahead of the vote. “But the landowners won’t have this threat from the unknown – of ‘Because the Legislative Assembly is out of town, are they going to pull a quick one and attempt a sentencing while they’re away?’ “”

Minutes after approving Kaufmann’s amendment, the House took up a separate proposal from Rep. Jeff Shipley, R-Birmingham, that would have completely eliminated the use of eminent domain rights for carbon capture pipelines. But after his opening comments, Shipley withdrew his amendment from consideration.

Summit Carbon Solutions requested the construction of a pipeline

Only one of the three companies, Summit Carbon Solutions, so far has applied for permission from the Iowa Utilities Board to build a hazardous liquids pipeline. Summit’s license application asks the council to grant it permission to use the eminent domain.

Summit’s application to the Iowa Utilities Board says the pipeline would have to cross 680 miles of Iowa land through 29 counties, potentially affecting 15,000 landowners along its way. Summit said it is in the process of reaching voluntary agreements with hundreds of Iowa landowners along the pipeline route.

Under current law, it could be months before the state board holds public hearings on Summit’s petition and issues a decision. Summit said it expects to receive a decision in the first quarter of 2023.

The proposal that passed the House is the latest of a handful of proposals lawmakers have made this year to limit the use of eminent domain on projects, but the other proposals have not moved forward.

Ian Richardson covers the Iowa Statehouse for the Des Moines Register. Join it at [email protected]at 515-284-8254, or on Twitter at @DMRIanR.