Iowa House passes another bill to aid landowners fighting carbon pipelines

DES MOINES — The Iowa House has voted to let landowners seek a court ruling now on whether carbon pipeline developers qualify for the government’s eminent domain authority to force unwilling property owners to let the pipeline on their land.

Republican Representative Charley Thomson of Charles City led debate on the proposal. “We’re faced with lots of choices in this body. Few go to the heart of Iowa the way this does. Land is the original asset in Iowa. It’s in our souls. An unjust taking of land without remedy is not only irritating, it’s outrageous,” Thomson said. “Let’s give Iowans a remedy.”

Thomson says, right now, property owners are forced to live in limbo for years — waiting for the Iowa Utilities Board decision on the project as well as the resolution of lawsuits expected to challenge that decision.  “That means for that entire period you have these Century Farms, landowners, people who didn’t especially want to have this pipeline going over their land and have some questions about it, not being able to get an answer on their constitutional law question,” Thomson says, “and not being able to sell their land at full value or make a decision on tiling or make a decision on estate planning.”

Republican Representative Steven Holt of Denison says Iowa landowners are pleading with elected officials to do the right thing — while their land is in limbo. “For several years I’ve watched, I’ve listened and I’ve been deeply concerned,” Holt says. “I’ve watched landowners fighting to protect their private property rights…and I have been disturbed by that fact that others do not hear their pleas or the truth of their message.”

Representative Bobby Kaufmann, a Republican from Wilton, was the other lawmaker who spoke before the bill passed on an 86 to seven vote — and Kaufmann sounded as if he was speaking directly to Bruce Rastetter, an influential G-O-P donor who owns Summit Carbon Solutions. “Most importantly I have a message for those who would choose to attempt to use their money to influence this vote, for those who would attempt to use their money to prevent this vote,” Kaufmann says. “My message is: ‘Take your money and shove it!'” Kaufmann says the government doesn’t exist to make the confiscation of private property easier or cheaper for pipeline developers.

The Iowa House has previously passed other proposals to set up pipeline regulations, but all have stalled in the Iowa Senate.