Summit says 600+ Iowa landowners have agreed to let carbon pipeline through their property

GOLDFIELD — An official with Summit Carbon Solutions says landowners so far have agreed to let its carbon pipeline run through nearly 40% of its proposed path through Iowa.

Jesse Harris is director of public affairs for the company.  “There’s obviously a lot of questions people have about the routing of the pipeline, about construction, repair of drainage tile, so we want to make sure we address those in a thoughtful way, but we’re very encouraged,” Harris says. “Right now we’re at nearly 40% of the route secured through voluntary easements.”

The pipeline route would stretch nearly 670 miles across Iowa on its way to North Dakota, where the captured carbon from Midwest ethanol plants would be stored underground. In mid-April, Summit officials said they’d secured about 20% of the route through Iowa.  “Our hope is to be in construction in 2023 and be in operation in 2024,” Harris says. “There’s still several months more that we’re going to be talking to landowners and addressing their questions and continuing the process of securing those voluntary easements, so throughout the course of this year I think we’ll try to secure the bulk of those. This is an ongoing process.”

Summit hosted an invitation-only open house at a Wright County ethanol plant earlier this week. Chris Boshart is the General Manager for Corn L-P in Goldfield, which would be linked to the pipeline.  “Our plant is a stand alone 80 million gallon plant. We have 35 local employees here. We have partnership with the local partnership that’s owned by local farmer members, so we have 3000 member farmers that are part of this project,” he says. “We’re very excited about this project and the direction is allows us to pursue in the future of ethanol.” 

Jim Pirolli, Summit’s Chief Commercial Officer, emphasized the scope of the overall project.  “The investment itself will create about 11,000 high paying construction jobs while we’re building the system and about 1100 hundred well-paying jobs once we’re in operation.”

Three companies have now proposed carbon capture pipelines through Iowa. The ethanol plant in Goldfield signed onto Summit’s plan in February of 2021. Pirolli says it’s important to de-carbonize the ethanol industry, which is the market for 40% of U.S. corn.  “This is one of 32 ethanol plant partners that we’ve joined with to build the world’s largest carbon capture and storage project,” Pirolli said, “so a several billion dollar project that is aimed to support the ethanol industry and production agriculture in the U.S.”

Pipeline opponents say private property rights will be sacrificed for corporate profits if developers are allowed to seize land from unwilling property owners through eminent domain.

Earlier this year, the Iowa House passed a moratorium that would have prohibited companies like Summit from applying for eminent domain until at least February of 2023. The bill did not pass the Iowa Senate, however. Iowa Utilities Board officials told key senators they will not begin the formal process of considering applications for eminent domain until next spring.