House bill would establish new rules for carbon pipelines, landowners rally

DES MOINES — It’s a farmer versus farmer debate over proposed rules for developers planning to build three carbon pipelines through Iowa.

Under a bill that’s cleared a House subcommittee, landowners along 90% of a pipeline’s route would have to grant voluntary access before developers could get state officials’ permission to seize the rest of the land. The Iowa Farm Bureau backs the bill.

“We believe that infrastructure projects and property rights can coexist,” Iowa Farm Bureau lobbyist Kevin Kuhle said during a House subcommittee hearing.

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association opposes the bill, arguing it would kill the pipeline projects intended to make ethanol carbon neutral. Devon Mogler represents Green Plains, which operates ethanol plants in Shenandoah and Superior.

“Our downstream customers that we reduce carbon intensity and now there are federal incentives in place that can not only benefit us, but farmers as well,” Mogler said.

Republican Representative Steven Holt of Denison is the bill’s lead sponsor. “I have no problem with the pipeline. I do have a problem with the blunt force of government being used to seize other people’s land for this project,” Holt said. “That is my concern. That is the reason we wrote this legislation.”

Landowners rally against carbon pipelines. (RI photo)

Jake Ketzner, a lobbyist for Summit Carbon Solutions, said it would be devastating for Iowa if the pipelines don’t get built. “In Iowa, over 60% of the corn produced in our state goes to ethanol production,” Ketzner said. “Can you imagine and rural Iowa or our state in general with reduced ethanol plants and 60% of the demand for corn gone?”

According to the Iowa Corn Growers Association, 57% of grown in Iowa is used to produce nearly 27% of U.S. ethanol.

A large group of landowners who oppose the pipelines rallied on the Iowa Capitol steps Tuesday morning. “We cover every corner of this state and we’re here to say it’s time that our elected officials work for us and stop these carbon pipelines,” said Kim Junker, who’s unwilling to voluntarily let the Navigator pipeline pass through the land she and her husband farm near New Hartford.

Senator Jeff Taylor, a Republican from Sioux Center, has proposed five different bills that would limit carbon pipeline development. “Even though my bills are stalled on the Senate side right now, the House bill would not have happened if not for you guys lighting a flame under we legislators here at the Capitol,” Taylor said, to cheers from rally goers. “I know that’s true.”

Three companies have proposed pipelines through the Midwest to capture carbon from ethanol plants and store the material underground in North Dakota.