Letter to the Editor

'Decarbonizing' follow up

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

As a follow up to David Kruse’s column entitled “decarbonizing,” Mr. Randy Cauthron's “decarbonizing our society” and Jane Shuttleworth’s letter to the editor, I would like to offer some thoughts and questions from a local and personal level.

Summit Carbon Solutions is a private, for-profit company that proposes to build a 710-mile pipeline through 30 Iowa counties. It is part of a five-state, 2000-plus-mile, $5.2 billion project that is projected to be completed in 2024. To build in Iowa, Summit must obtain from the Iowa Utilities Board a permit to build a hazardous liquid pipeline. Issuance of that permit will enable Summit to use eminent domain to acquire the easements for the pipeline through private property, such as my farm. The IUB has no jurisdiction to regulate the safety of the pipeline but has the sole discretion to determine whether or not to allow a private company to build a hazardous pipeline across Iowa. The question before the IUB will be singular, “does the pipeline promote the public convenience and necessity?” That permit, should the IUB grant it, cannot be revoked, runs with the land, and impacts all future land owners. Contrast that to the Summit investment history of four projects, only one of which was held more than three years.

I believe Climate change is real. I am all for carbon capture and storage (CCS). Summit’s proposal to pump CO2 down a hole is but one approach to CCS. It is also a good example of the “devil is in the details.”

As to the Iowa Utilities Board: Who are these people and is that subjective question … relevant?

How long before this $5.2 billion pipeline, this method of “decarbonizing our society” is old technology? Will this become an example of tax dollars, your money, wasted? For whose profit? What happens should the pipeline project go bust? Who is responsible, accountable? Am I left with an irrevocable easement and a pipeline (a pipeline that could move oil)? That question was left unanswered at the informational meeting I attended. Farmers are told this is an investment in their economic future. Is it?

Who oversees the safe installation of this pipeline? Who is liable when the pipeline blows up and Summit is gone, perhaps no longer exists? Is my local volunteer fire department adequately funded, equipped and trained to respond to such an emergency? At what risk?

Remember, Summit Ag is an investment group. Is it possible that the viability of this pipeline project rests more on the flexible definition of carbon capture equipment and the broader eligibility of tax credits than the accomplishment of the stated goal itself?

— Wendell King, Clay County land owner