Not On Our Watch

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

PLYMOUTH CO. — The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors has submitted a letter to the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) opposing the construction of two CO2 pipelines in Plymouth County and specifically the use of eminent domain in obtaining use of land from landowners.

Eminent domain is the right of a government or its agent to expropriate or purchase private property for public use, with payment of compensation.

Two companies, Summit Carbon Solutions and Navigator Heartland Greenway, have proposed CO2 pipeline projects that would run through parts of the county. Both companies held public hearings in the county, Summit on Sept. 16 and Navigator on Nov. 29.

Summit Carbon Solutions would connect to the Plymouth Energy, LLC ethanol plant in Merrill to a system that will bring the CO2 to North Dakota where it will be stored underground.

Heartland Greenway would run about 24 1/2 miles through the southeast part of the county, with its end point at a permanent underground sequestration site in Christian County, Illinois.

Supervisors Chairman Don Kass said he attended the meeting in late November at the Le Mars Convention Center regarding the Greenway Heartland proposal.

“I sat in on that and asked some questions to which I did not get a very satisfactory answer other than to say that if nobody in Plymouth County wants to do this can they ram the entire thing through Plymouth County using eminent domain all the way across, and they said ‘well yeah.’ The whole crowd went ‘oooh,’” he said.

“There was not a single person there that spoke in favor of the pipeline,” he added.

Having met with several county supervisors from around the region where the pipelines are proposed, many of whom are having this run through their counties, Kass said they expressed the same view that this is a completely inappropriate use for eminent domain.

He said Kossuth County was the first county in the area to file an objection, with Dickinson following suit.

“Franklin County also filed late last week and Woodbury County planned to do it Tuesday (Jan. 11).

“We approved our letter last week and Franklin County also filed late last week,” Kass said.

The letter sent by the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors is as follows:

Dear Board Members:

The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors would like to express their opposition to the issuing of permits establishing the application of eminent domain for both the Summit Carbon Solutions and the Navigator Heartland Greenway CO2 pipeline projects.

While we note the many concerns expressed by our citizens regarding the safety of these pipelines, our opposition to these projects lie with the fact that projects of this nature are not public utilities and should not receive eminent domain status. Unlike natural gas pipelines, fuel pipelines, and electrical transmission lines, CO2 pipelines serve no public purpose or utility. The only reason for the existence of these two projects is for the profit motives of their respective investors, many of whom are foreign including large sums from the People’s Republic of China, among other entities. In no way, shape, matter or form do CO2 pipelines serve our people, our communities or our overall economy. The precedent set by the granting of eminent domain to projects like this would mean that eminent domain could be used for any number of projects for which it was never intended. We respectfully ask that you deny permits to these two entities and in the future consider only projects that serve the actual public good.

Sincerely, Don Kass, Plymouth County Board Of Supervisors

Don Kass, Chairman

The letter was unanimously approved by the board of supervisors and was sent by mail and registered on the IUB docket site.

Kass indicated the use of eminent domain “could potentially create a monster with this. It would set a precedent.”

Information about how landowners may file an objection, letter of support or provide a comment on the proposed project to the IUB electronically can be found at www.iub.iowa.gov. or submit written comments by mail. Phone comments are not accepted.

For comments on the Summit Summit Carbon Solutions, the docket number HLP-2021-0001 must be included in the comments or letters.

For comments on the Navigator Heartland Greenway LLC project, the docket number HLP-2021-0003 must be included in the comments or letters.

For information, call the IUB IT Support Desk at 515-725-7337.

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