Iowa Senate Puts the Brakes on Carbon Pipeline Regs From House

(Radio Iowa) A bill that would have set a few new ground rules for carbon pipelines has stalled in the Senate. Representative Steven Holt, a Republican from Denison, led debate of the bill in the House, where it passed on a 73-to-20 vote.

“The legislation’s one of the most important things we could have done this session,” Holt says. The bill would have required that 90 percent of a carbon pipeline’s route be secured through voluntary agreements before eminent domain authority from the state could be used to compel other landowners to sign easements.

“A lot of concerned citizens across the state of Iowa do not want their property taken for this project — an economic development project and I’m disappointed,” Holt says. Today (Thursday) is the last day of the legislature’s work week and also the deadline for policy bills from the House to have cleared a Senate committee. Senate Democratic Leader Zach Wahls of Coralville says Republicans who control the senate’s debate agenda could have at least scheduled a subcommittee hearing on the bill.

“I think that if the bill would have come to the floor, it would have had strong majority support,” Wahls says, “so I was surprised.” It’s possible some of the elements of the bill could be tacked onto a budget bill next month. There’s also a chance that state regulators’ review of the pipeline projects might extend into early 2024. Holt says that means it might be possible for next year’s legislature to revisit the issue.

“Dynamics can change around here very quickly around here when it’s an election year and people begin to hear a lot from their constituents, so we’ll see where it goes,” Holt says, “My concern about waiting a year, obviously, is that eminent domain could already be in process for some of our landowners, but maybe the process will not be that far along, so we’ll see.” The proposed Wolf pipeline to capture carbon from ADM plants is about 300 miles long and the developer says it’s getting voluntary access to the route and will not need to seek eminent domain authority. The other pipeline developers are expected to ask the Iowa Utilities Board for eminent domain authority to secure easements from landowners who haven’t voluntarily granted access to their properties. Navigator’s pipeline would stretch about 800 miles through 33 Iowa counties. The Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline would be about 680 miles long and pass through 29 counties. Advocates say the pipelines will make ethanol a low-carbon fuel by capturing and shipping carbon from Iowa ethanol plants to underground storage sites in Illinois and North Dakota.