CO2 Pipelines

CO2 Pipelines seem to be all over the news in Iowa. The idea is to capture the CO2 that is being produced by Ethanol plants in Iowa, compressing it into a liquid, and piping it to another place to sequester it underground. This would prevent the CO2 from entering the atmosphere and further depleting the ozone layer. Sounds pretty good, huh?

Sounds pretty good until you dig in and get the details about it.

Fact is, there aren’t a whole lot of details about it. There haven’t been a lot of studies about it and the dangers aren’t really well understood. There is one incident that we can look at – a rupture in a small Mississippi town in 2020 that resulted in the entire town of Sataria to be evacuated. The rupture spewed CO2 into the air, sickening many people and requiring hospitalization for many of them. Two years later, some have not yet been able to return to work and their normal lives. We don’t yet know the long term effects of such a rupture.

There are several companies working towards putting in these pipelines in Iowa. These companies are private companies that will make a profit from the CO2 capture by charging the Ethanol companies to take the CO2 and by selling to CO2 to other companies that use it for Enhanced Oil Recovery, which is fracking.

Navigator Ventures is one such company, and their pipeline would cover 1300 miles across South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and finally Illinois. It would gather 15 million tons of CO2 per year from around 20 Ethanol and fertilizer plants and dump it in deep wells in the earth in Illinois.

The project is possible due to huge tax credits and will use just as much CO2 creating fossil fuel to complete and operate it as it claims to save the environment from the gathering process. This industry is under-regulated and dangerous, and as we saw in Mississippi, can cause loss of life in the event of a rupture.

Why do I care so much about this? Well, I am concerned with the environment and what we are doing to our ozone, but as it stands, this pipeline will pass by my house only 1/4 of a mile away. The town in Mississippi was 1/2 mile away. If the pipeline ruptures, gone is the farm my family has owned and operated for nearly a century and a half.

If this pipeline goes through, I get to spend every day worrying about a rupture for the rest of my life. Do you think it helps my land value? If you were someone looking to buy farmland, would you choose farmland with a pipeline under it or one that doesn’t have a pipeline under it? Of course it will lower the value of my land.

Other concerns revolve around the damage done to the topsoil during construction. They claim that they will separate the topsoil and place it back the way it was but I have yet to see one farmer confirm that this has happened with other projects in the past. All of the reports point to damaged land and reduced yields for years to come.

Navigator was supposed to notify landowners when they were come to survey the land. DId this happen? Not in my case. I even sent a letter to them back in February asking them to coordinate with me as we had a huge pile of trees out there to burn. No contact requesting permission. They entered my land and did a survey without my permission or notification which is against the law.

Until yesterday, I had not returned any messages to them regarding this. I got a voicemail from one of their representatives yesterday so I called them back. He immediately offered me $6000 more per acre than what was originally offered. I asked for it in writing and he sent me a revised Easement and Crop Yield/Damages report with the updated figures. I responded with the following:

<Agent name withheld>,

The first issue that needs to be addressed is the illegal trespass on my land to do the survey.   I sent a letter to Navigator (see attached) requesting notification of the survey and did not receive it.    That point is mute, however, because the law states that a proper 10 day notice be given to me which wasn’t.     I will accept payment of a fine in the amount of $1000 to settle this matter.   If that isn’t agreeable then I will file charges with the Webster County Sheriff and submit a complaint to the Utilities Board and we can let the courts decide.   I’m not willing to discuss anything further until this is resolved.      Any further access to my land is not allowed without proper notification via certified letter or there will be further fines assessed.

If we get past the illegal trespass, I’m asking for compensation for loss of revenue for my business as I won’t be able to operate during construction. I’m also asking for compensation for mental anguish for having to worry about a fucking rupture for the rest of my life. Oh and compensation for the loss of value to my land and my home. That is if I decide to sign.

What happens if I decide not to sign?

Navigator will exercise the right it will be given by the Iowa Utilities Board of eminent domain, and they will take the land anyway. Eminent Domain, you ask? How is this possible? Isn’t eminent domain reserved for government use only and only for the purposes that are for the public good like roads, bridges, utilities, etc? And isn’t Navigator a private company constructing a pipeline for their own profit? How is this even possible?

It’s possible because the CEO of Navigator has Terry Branstad on his team. Terry appointed two of the three members of the Iowa Utilities Board and the third was appointed by Kim Reynolds, our current governor-ess. It’s the Utilities Board that gets to decide if eminent domain can be used. Isn’t this just a bunch of horseshit?

Keep your eyes on this category for further events as this drama unfolds.

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