Bill would set new rules for future pipeline projects

DES MOINES — A bill to set new standards for future pipelines and electric transmission lines as well as wind farms and solar arrays is among the many bills that face a deadline. Bills have to clear a committee in the Iowa House or Senate by the end of this week or they’re set aside for the year.

Republican Senator Dennis Guth of Klemme says one goal of his bill is to ensure companies that install pipelines and electric generating facilities on farmland are responsible when problems — like sinkholes — crop up long into the future.  “It’s pretty scary when you’re going through a field with combine and suddenly there’s a hole right in front of me,” Guth says. “I stopped one time with my corn head hanging over the hole going, ‘Oh! I need to back up here.'”

Guth’s bill would require that all pipelines and any underground transmission lines be buried at least eight feet deep to ensure proper drainage through tile lines. “It also makes sure that landowners that are resistant are not harassed by the companies. It allows for initial contact and, after initial contact, the landowner has to sign off on a letter to say: ‘Yeah, it’s OK. I want to continue negotiating,'” Guth says. “I know there have been some landowners, especially older landowners, that finally gave in just because they just wanted these people to go away and that’s really not the way to win a contract.”

Governor Reynolds has said she’s open to changing state regulations for pipeline permits in the future, but she says it would be unfair to change the rules for carbon pipeline developers Summit and Wolf. Guth’s bill is NOT retroactive.  “It does not actually affect the current pipelines,” he says. “Kind of wish it did, but I know that anything that’s doing that is not getting anyplace in the senate.”

Earlier this month, the G-O-P leader in the senate said there’s no consensus among the 34 Republican senators on a pipeline-related bill.