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A key Iowa lawmaker wants carbon pipelines to get majority landowner support before requesting eminent domain

At an information meeting in Lyon County, representatives from Navigator CO2 Ventures presented on their proposed pipeline that would pass through 900 miles of Iowa.
Kendall Crawford
At an informational meeting in Lyon County, representatives from Navigator CO2 Ventures presented their proposed pipeline that would stretch for 900 miles in Iowa.

A key Iowa lawmaker says he wants to require carbon pipeline companies to get support from a large majority of landowners in the pipeline’s path before asking state regulators for eminent domain.

Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, chairs the House State Government Committee. He said at least 70 percent of landowners should have to agree to a pipeline before companies can ask the state to take property from those who don’t agree.

“I’m pro-landowner,” Kaufmann told reporters Monday. “I’m pro- you deciding what to do with your farm or your business or your home, unless you’re doing something stupid, like committing a crime or not paying taxes. And the process has worked so far, but someday, it’s not. And someday, landowners are going to get screwed.”

Kaufmann said he is looking at other state laws before deciding what percentage to put in his bill.

He said Iowa already has a law like this for pipeline projects that pass through Iowa, but not for those that have terminals within the state.

“You could do a pipeline with 10 percent landowner approval and ask for eminent domain,” Kaufmann said. “I’m not insinuating that the current [Iowa] Utilities Board would grant it. But the fact that it’s permissible to ask is a problem for me.”

Two companies are proposing pipelines that would capture carbon emissions from Iowa ethanol plants, and transport the carbon dioxide to Illinois and North Dakota to be stored underground.

At public meetings about the proposals from Navigator CO2 Ventures and Summit Carbon Solutions, farmers and landownersvoiced their concerns about potential pipeline leaks and impact to their land.

Summit Carbon Solutions representatives have said they see this as a way to sustain markets for Iowa corn. More than half of the state’s corn crop is made into ethanol.

Some environmentalists sayit’s a “false solution” to climate change that isn’t financially feasible without government support.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter