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Community Benefits Agreement Reached for Nebraska Pipeline Project

The Iowa Capital Dispatch’s Paul Hammel reported last week that “the developer of a carbon-dioxide pipeline (across Nebraska) and an environmental group have struck a ‘one-of-a-kind’ agreement to ensure ‘community benefits’ from the pipeline as well as support for the project.”

“Kansas-based Tallgrass, which is converting a 392-mile-long natural gas pipeline to transport CO2, announced the agreement Tuesday with Bold Alliance, whose subsidiary, Bold Nebraska, was a leading opponent of the Keystone XL crude-oil pipeline,” Hammel reported. “…Under the ‘community benefits agreement,’ Bold will not oppose the project in exchange for Tallgrass’ commitment to spend $600,000 to train and equip first responders on the pipeline route and to donate $500,000 to nonprofits in the counties on the route.

“In addition, landowners on new pipeline laterals will have the option to receive yearly royalty checks, based on the volume of carbon dioxide being shipped, rather than a lump-sum payment for right of way upfront,” Hammel reported. “And they will have the option of having Tallgrass remove the pipe and reclaim the land if the pipeline is later decommissioned.”

Proposed Tallgrass pipeline map. Courtesy of Trailblazer Pipeline Co.
Community Agreement is First of its Kind

Hammel reported that Tallgrass spokesman Steven Davidson “said it’s the first agreement of its kind that he’s aware of involving a pipeline project.”

And while “such community benefit agreements are legally binding” and “non-compliance could result in a lawsuit seeking enforcement of the provision,” Hammel reported, “lawsuits over eminent domain could still happen, and (Bold Alliance founder Jane) Kleeb said the agreement doesn’t change Bold’s opposition to the use of eminent domain for pipelines that blaze new routes.”

However, Tallgrass segment president Kyle “Quackenbush said that using a court order to obtain land is the company’s ‘last resort.’ Already, he said, Tallgrass has worked ‘hundreds of reroutes’ after finding landowners who didn’t want a pipeline across their land,” according to Hammel’s reporting.

As of last week, “eleven farm groups also signed the 10-page, 10-year agreement as supporters, including the Nebraska Farm Bureau, the Nebraska Farmers Union, and Renewable Fuels Nebraska.”

Why Some Farmers are Opposing Pipelines

The community benefits agreement was reached in an effort for pipeline developer Tallgrass to avoid much of the opposition from farmers, landowners and state regulators that have plagued other carbon pipeline proposals in the Midwest over the last several months.

For example, the proposed pipeline across the Midwest by Summit Carbon Solutions’ has faced “regulator pushback and vocal opposition from farmers who don’t want to be anywhere near a project they claim tramples on landowner rights,” Bloomberg’s Kim Chipman reported. That has caused Summit to go “back to the drawing board to revise the pipeline’s path 6,300 times. The project’s expected start has been delayed until early 2026, two years later than initial projections, with the estimated cost nearly doubling to about $8 billion.”

While Summit’s proposal and others like it could be key for helping corn farmers be able to use their crops in things like ethanol and sustainable aviation fuel, Chipman reported, “some corn farmers who are usually quite supportive of the ethanol industry aren’t convinced the company’s solution is the right one, especially after its initial approach toward landowners was viewed by some as too adversarial, or even bullying. Tensions have been especially high in South Dakota, which rejected Summit’s plan last year on the grounds it didn’t comply with county distance rules.”

“Summit Carbon’s top rival, the now defunct Navigator pipeline backed by BlackRock Inc., failed last year after grappling with similar opposition,” Chipman wrote.

Hammel reported that Kleeb said that now “the question is, what will other pipeline companies now do? This sets a pretty high bar.”

“The agreement, Kleeb said, ‘sets a standard’ for future energy infrastructure projects of all kinds, including renewable energy.”

Ryan Hanrahan is the Farm Policy News editor and social media director for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked in local news, primarily as an agriculture journalist in the American West. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri (B.S. Science & Agricultural Journalism). He can be reached at

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