“The biggest boondoggle”: Shelby County landowners testify in week five of Iowa Utility Board hearing
FORT DODGE — The Iowa Utility Board heard testimonies from various Iowa landowners, including Shelby County residents Julie Kaufman and Rick Chipman, during the fifth week of the evidentiary hearing for Summit Carbon Solutions’ permit to transport captured carbon dioxide from ethanol plants in an underground pipeline for sequestration in North Dakota.
Kaufman said her family is not interested in selling their land, which is located outside of Westphalia. “We’ve made it very clear to them from the very beginning that we were not interested in selling our land,” she said. “We don’t want to sign any part of that agreement with them, because it really doesn’t have too much in it for us, I don’t think. It’s just all for them. We made it very clear we weren’t interested in their proposals to buy our land.”
Kaufman cited safety concerns. “This is not a safe project. They cannot prove that it’s safe. We already know that they had that rupture in Satartia (Mississippi), and evacuated over 200 people. Forty-some were hospitalized. The thought of that happening to any of our grandchildren, or any of our family — this is our home. It feels like a violation of our private property rights, actually,” she said.
“This is a private investment company that wants to make money,” she said. “I’m a capitalist. I’m not against making money. But, I am against taking other people’s land to do it.” She doesn’t believe tax credits should be received for the project, and called the project “The biggest boondoggle.”
Rick Chipman expressed his concerns with the proposed pipeline’s proximity to the homes of his employee and son. Chipman Farms is a family owned and operated field crop and swine farm located outside of Harlan.“One of our greatest concerns is an accident or incident,” Chipman said, noting the nearest Emergency Medical Service is seven miles away.
Chipman shared the importance of conservation efforts, the impact the proposed pipeline could have on the future growth and expansion of his family’s business, and his worry of the damage the heavy farm equipment could cause by driving over a pipeline.
“It could be destructive for many years,” he said. “You can’t mess with the land without paying the price.”
Chipman said he would have half a million dollars in hogs near the pipeline. “How do you insure that? There’s no safety nets in livestock production, you’re just screwed.”
He believes rather than transporting the CO2 underground, a better solution would be to capture it at the ethanol plants and convert it to propane, plastics, or other usable products on site.
“I simply believe there’s a better way than burrowing 2,000 miles and storing it under a rock. That’s not rocket science.”
Chipman said his interaction with Summit employees has been limited, and after he expressed his safety concerns at a Shelby County Board of Supervisors meeting, a representative from the company dropped off safety information at his farm. He said he and a different representative had a “short, cordial visit”, but he “really hasn’t had a lot of contact” from the company. However, he said, “they have the impression” he will not sign an easement.
“I take a lot of risks, with trucking, with high production, with several employees in an occupation that’s not the least dangerous,” Chipman said.
“This is one risk I just don’t want to take.”
At the beginning of last week’s hearing, IUB Board Chairman Erik Helland limited the questions asked by attorneys for landowners who don’t want the Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline on their property.
Citing a district court ruling from a previous pipeline hearing, Helland said the board has authority to limit “repetitive” cross examination of witnesses.
“The board will continue to restrict and run a very tight course,” Helland said. “We have clear authority to limit unduly repetitious testimony.
Brian Jorde, an attorney for over 100 landowners, including many in Shelby County, stated his objection. “Any party is allowed to ask questions of any witness,” Jorde said. “That’s the rule,” It’s as simple as that.”
On Tuesday, Rep. Steve Holt (R- Denison) testified on behalf of the landowners. He issued the following press release:
“Today, Senator Sandy Salmon and I testified before the Iowa Utilities Board on behalf of the landowners of Iowa whose sacred private property rights are under assault by CO2 pipeline companies that seek to use the heavy hand of government to seize their land for private economic development purposes.
“There is no legal justification for the granting of eminent domain for what is clearly and unequivocally a private economic development project. The request for eminent domain by Summit Carbon Solutions, LLC for their CO2 pipeline project does not meet the Iowa constitutional requirement for public use. Public use includes roads, electric transmission lines, and oil and natural gas pipelines - infrastructure essential for human survival. Shipping CO2 hundreds of miles to be buried underground in another state does not even come close to the public use requirement.
“Additionally, this eminent domain request does not satisfy the requirements in the grant of limited authority to the IUB by the Iowa Legislature in Iowa Code Section 479B.9, which states, “A permit shall not be granted to a pipeline company unless the board determines that the proposed services will promote the public convenience and necessity,”– again, this CO2 pipeline project does not even come close to meeting this statutory requirement.
“Freedom and property rights are inseparable. You can’t have one without the other.” President George Washington’s words should reverberate strongly in the ears of Iowa Utilities Board members, freedom-loving Iowans, and most particularly, in the ears of those who seek, through the use of eminent domain, to assault the sacred private property rights of hundreds of landowners in our state.
The Iowa Utilities Board does not have the constitutional or statutory authority to grant eminent domain for these CO2 pipeline projects. The Iowa Utilities Board should follow the requirements in Iowa Code and the Iowa Constitution and disapprove the request for eminent domain by Summit Carbon Solutions, LLC. If these CO2 pipelines are to be built, let them be built using voluntary easements, and not by assaulting the fundamental private property rights of hundreds of Iowans.”
There are several landowners listed on the schedule for this week. IUB recently revealed the facility the hearing is taking place has been rented until September 28. However,xs Jorde told Iowa Capital Dispatch, “There is virtually no chance all testimony is concluded by end of day September 28.”