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Iowa Regulators Approve Summit Carbon Pipeline Permit

The Des Moines Register’s Kevin Baskins reported that “after a 2½-year process filled with controversy, the Iowa Utilities Board on Tuesday approved Summit Carbon Solutions’ request to build a carbon capture pipeline across Iowa.”

In perhaps the most controversial part of its decision, the board said Summit will be able to use eminent domain to acquire land from owners unwilling to sell it access,” Baskins reported. “The board said it had examined each of the parcels subject to a request for eminent domain ‘to determine, based upon the record, whether to approve, deny, or modify each request.’ The report showed it ended up denying only four, and two valve placements, out of more than 90 cases.”

Summit Carbon Solutions Proposed Pipeline (without the POET additions)

“Following the approval, Summit said it would begin construction of the pipeline in 2025, with operation expected to begin in 2026,” Baskins reported. “The pipeline will transport carbon dioxide, liquefied under pressure, from ethanol plants across Iowa and neighboring states to a deep underground sequestration site in North Dakota ― pending a decision in that state on reconsideration of a permit it previously turned down.”

Iowa Pipeline Details

The Iowa Capital Dispatch’s Clark Kauffman reported Monday that “the company hopes to begin construction next year with the goal of making the pipeline operational in 2026.”

“The pipeline would cross more than 2,000 miles across five states, including nearly 700 miles in Iowa. In planning the pipeline, Summit has partnered with 57 ethanol plants and the company says it has signed voluntary easement agreements with 75% of the Iowa route’s landowners,” Kauffman reported. “In giving its approval to the project, the Iowa Utilities Board ruled that Summit cannot begin construction in Iowa until the necessary permits are secured in South Dakota and North Dakota.”

Safety Provisions Included in Approval

Baskins reported that “safety also was a major issue during the monthslong hearing the board held on Summit’s application in 2023, with property owners, residents and city and county officials expressing concern about potential leaks. Colorless, odorless carbon dioxide is an asphyxiant, and can sicken or even kill people exposed to it.”

“The board said Summit will be required to:

  • Conduct X-ray inspections of all welds, test pipeline coatings and test the line at high pressure.
  • Use thicker-walled pipe and fracture arrestors ‘where appropriate.’
  • Provide carbon dioxide monitors for every emergency truck, fire truck, law enforcement vehicle and ambulance in communities the pipeline crosses.
  • Provide grants to cities and counties to purchase the equipment they would need to deal with a pipeline-related incident.
  • Equip each county on the pipeline route with an alarm system that would notify authorities of leaks.”

“In addition, the board said that before it grants construction permits, Summit must obtain a $100 million liability insurance policy,” Baskins reported. “It also will have to ensure landowners and tenants are compensated for damages ‘that may result from the construction’ of the pipeline.”

Opponents Say They Will Appeal

Baskins reported that “Wally Taylor, attorney for the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club, was still reading through the IUB’s 507-page decision late Tuesday morning, but said an appeal will be filed to district court.”

“One likely challenge to the IUB’s decision will involve the granting of eminent domain to Summit, which Taylor argued does not qualify because the pipeline would be solely for its use ― not a so-called ‘common carrier’ available to a variety of users,” Baskins reported.

In addition, Kauffman reported that “Food & Water Watch Policy Director Jim Walsh blamed Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds for a decision that he said will benefit corporations at the expense of Iowa’s rural communities.”

“‘Summit’s carbon pipeline scam is nothing but a gift to Big Ag and the polluting ethanol industry,’ Walsh said,” according to Kauffman’s reporting. “‘The pipeline poses substantial risks to public safety and will do little to nothing to reduce climate pollution. Gov. Reynolds’s administration is at the center of this decision, and the whole project is made possible by massive federal tax credits and subsidies for the dangerous and unnecessary carbon capture industry. While Summit stands to make billions, it is our climate and communities that lose out.'”

“Walsh said that while Summit ‘has won this round in Iowa, this is not the end of the line. There are still decisions at the federal and state levels that will determine whether this dangerous pipeline is ever built,'” Kauffman reported.

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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