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Iowa Utilities Board approves plans for CO2 pipeline through 29 counties
Iowa Utilities Board approves plans for CO2 pipeline through 29 counties

Summit Carbon Solutions’ plan to build a hazardous liquid pipeline through 29 counties has been approved, with modifications, by the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB).

Summit Carbon filed a petition on January 28, 2022, for a proposed 688-mile pipeline to transport liquefied carbon dioxide through Iowa and into North Dakota, where it would be permanently sequestered underground.  In its decision, the IUB unanimously found Summit Carbon met the requirements of Iowa Code Chapter 479B and that the pipeline “will provide a service that is in the public convenience and necessity.”  The IUB’s order approves the proposed overall pipeline route and grants the right of eminent domain over specific parcels listed in the order after thve permit is issued.

The decision follows a 34-month process in which the IUB says it:

–          Conducted 33 public informational meetings

–          Received approximately 50,000 pages of prefiled testimony and exhibits from hundreds of witnesses and landowners

–          Held a public hearing over 25 days

–          Accepted more than 150 intervenors into the docket

–          Heard testimony at hearing from more than 200 witnesses and landowners

–          Reviewed nearly 7,500 pages of hearing transcript

–          Reviewed almost 4,200 written comments, including 600 filed after the deadline set by Iowa law

“The momentum will continue as we prepare to file our South Dakota permit application in early July,” says Lee Blank, CEO of Summit Carbon Solutions.  “We look forward to engaging with the state throughout this process and are confident in a successful outcome.”

Summit Carbon Solutions says it is partnering with 57 ethanol plants across five states and has signed voluntary easement agreements with 75% of Iowa landowners along this route.

In response to the decision, Food & Water Watch Policy Director Jim Walsh issued the following statement:

“Summit’s massive carbon pipeline scam is nothing but a gift to Big Ag and the polluting ethanol industry. The pipeline poses substantial risks to public safety and will do little to nothing to reduce climate pollution. Governor Reynolds’s administration is at the center of this decision, and the whole project is made possible by massive federal tax credits and subsidies for the dangerous and unnecessary carbon capture industry. While Summit stands to make billions, it is our climate and communities that lose out. 

“While the company has won this round in Iowa, this is not the end of the line. There are still decisions at the federal and state levels that will determine whether this dangerous pipeline is ever built. The IUB’s approval of this dangerous project underscores the urgent need for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to update the outdated regulations for carbon dioxide pipelines before any other authorizations are issued.”

Summit Carbon must submit additional filings on the IUB-required changes for review before a permit is issued.  Prior to the IUB issuing a permit and Summit Carbon beginning construction, Summit Carbon will have to obtain and file proof of a general liability insurance policy of no less than $100 million to cover any damages related to the construction, operation, and maintenance of its Iowa pipeline.  Summit Carbon will be required to provide proof of such insurance to the IUB annually.

IBU says Summit Carbon is also not allowed to begin construction in Iowa until it has obtained approval from North Dakota for the route and sequestration site and approval from South Dakota for the route.  The company also cannot start construction of trunk or lateral lines to ethanol plants in Minnesota and Nebraska until approvals are granted in those states.

American Carbon Alliance CEO Tom Buis issued the following statement on the Iowa Utilities Board’s decision to permit the Summit Carbon Solutions CO2 pipeline:

“The Iowa Utilities Board should be commended for handling the pipeline proceedings fairly, transparently, and in accordance with Iowa law.

“This decision was the right one and will be transformative for the ag industry and Iowa’s economy. Capturing Carbon to lower the carbon index to open new markets such as Sustainable Aviation Fuels and higher blends for American consumers is the greatest opportunity for farmers since the buildout of the ethanol industry.

“The Summit Carbon pipeline will lead to increased demand for corn, benefiting farmers and increasing farm income, and stimulating economic activity for ethanol plants and ag-related business. This is a huge win for the future of rural America, for American consumers, and for America’s energy independence. Hopefully other states will also move forward quickly.”

“We applaud the IUB for the thorough and fair process it took to reach this decision,” says Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw.  “Despite the overheated rhetoric of a few, we must not forget that the overwhelming majority of impacted landowners support this project. More importantly, it was the correct decision based on federal and state law. It is encouraging to see the large amount of disinformation did not prevail.”


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