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Legislators address carbon concerns

People hold sign reading "No CO2 Pipelines" made by the Great Plains Action Society.
Madeleine Charis King
IPR file
Protestors gathered in Des Moines in November showing opposition to three proposed carbon capture pipeline ventures in the state. The rally was hosted by the climate justice coalition Buffalo Rebellion, which says carbon pipelines do not reduce greenhouse gas emissions and instead "prolong the use of dirty energy."

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law last week limiting the amount of money Iowa victims of medical malpractice can get for non-economic injuries like pain and suffering.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in both chambers put forward proposals to put new restrictions on the use of eminent domain for carbon capture pipelines. Parts of Reynolds’ wide-ranging health care bill also advanced.

Carbon pipeline projects and eminent domain

This is the second legislative session in a row lawmakers have heard from environmentalists and landowners regarding three carbon capture pipeline projects that have been proposed in the state. Several bills have been introduced in the Iowa Senate and House to address their concerns.

One bill draft released by House Republicans last week would require pipeline companies to get owners of 90% of the land in the project’s path to voluntarily agree to have the pipeline cross their land. The companies would need to reach that threshold before the state could authorize the use of eminent domain to access land from unwilling landowners.

The bill would block the state from issuing construction permits for the pipelines until federal regulators have completed new safety rules for carbon capture pipelines. It would also require the developer of any pipeline that crosses into multiple states to get permits approved in all of the other states before Iowa could allow them to use eminent domain.

Several separate bills have been introduced in the Iowa Senate that would seek to limit the use of eminent domain for these carbon pipelines, including one that would block the use of eminent domain for all hazardous liquid pipelines.

Legislation that aimed to address landowner concerns about eminent domain failed to pass last year. Gov. Kim Reynolds has historically been a supporter of the carbon capture pipelines because Iowa’s biofuels industry says they’re needed to keep Iowa’s ethanol plants going.

A study commissioned by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, which is in support of the pipelines, says that if Iowa ethanol plants aren’t able to use carbon pipelines, they won’t be competitive with neighboring states that do carbon capture and receive tax credits for it.

Reynolds’ health care bill receives bipartisan support and dissent

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee advanced parts of Reynolds’ wide-ranging health care bill last week.

Senate Republicans didn’t advance the governor’s proposal to allow Iowans to get birth control pills from a pharmacy without a prior prescription from a doctor. Some Republican lawmakers have argued that if Iowa is going to restrict abortion, the state should expand access to birth control. Others said they don’t believe it’s safe. Reynolds says she thinks that provision is important and she’ll work with lawmakers to pass it in both chambers.

Democrats say they support parts of the bill, including creating state-funded obstetrics fellowships in hopes of attracting providers to rural communities. Democrats also support paid parental leave for state workers who either have a baby or adopt, as well as expanding birth control access.

But, Democrats are opposed to the proposal that would increase funding for anti-abortion pregnancy centers. They say the state should put that money towards expanding access to prenatal care with licensed medical providers, which would be safer for pregnant people. Some lawmakers have argued that the crisis pregnancy centers are misleading and can make people believe they’re receiving proper medical care when they are not.

What’s next 

Lawmakers continue to parse through the governor’s plan to reorganize and consolidate state agencies.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter
Michael Leland is IPR's News Director
As the newsletter product manager, Madeleine (she/her) coordinates and writes for Iowa Public Radio’s newsletter portfolio, including The Daily Digest and Political Sense.