Carbon pipeline company sues Iowa county over local siting ordinance

Source: By Clark Mindock, Reuters • Posted: Thursday, November 17, 2022

(Reuters) – The developer of a Midwest carbon capture pipeline network has sued Shelby County in Iowa, saying its ordinance restricting the siting of hazardous pipelines is overruled by a federal pipeline safety law.

Iowa-based Summit Carbon Solutions LLC said in a complaint filed in Iowa federal court Tuesday that the rule, passed by Shelby County on Nov. 1, could stall a segment of the pipeline network that would connect several Midwest states. It says the Pipeline Safety Act overrules local ordinances, and wants the courts to bar the rule’s implementation.

“The value of Iowa ethanol production, and the value of corn in Iowa — and throughout the Nation — depends on, and will likely increasingly depend on, carbon-reduction efforts of Iowa ethanol facilities,” Summit said in the complaint.

The developer has proposed a 1,900-mile network of underground pipelines – including more than 650 in Iowa – that would connect five states and allow ethanol plants to ship liquefied carbon emissions captured during production to sequester sites in North Dakota. Sequestering carbon is needed to ensure state ethanol producers can comply with increasingly strict emissions laws in some of Iowa’s biggest markets for ethanol including California, Oregon and Canada, according to the lawsuit.

The county’s attorney’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

The pipeline network is one of three proposed in the Midwest and in Iowa, the largest producer of ethanol in the country, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

If finished, the Summit network would connect 30 ethanol and fertilizer production facilities across South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska.

In Iowa, the Summit project would cross through 30 counties including Shelby and Story counties. The company petitioned the Iowa Utilities Board for state approvals in January, and that board is scheduled to consider the issue Dec. 13. To comply with permitting procedure, the company has held information meetings for landowners affected by the construction.

Summit filed an Iowa federal court lawsuit against similar ordinances in Story County on Monday.

Carbon capture pipelines have been met with other local resistance in Iowa beyond the local ordinances. Landowners and conservation groups have pushed back through public comments and lawsuits against the projects claiming carbon capture and storage is a largely untested technology and that pressurized pipelines transporting liquefied CO2 present health dangers.

The case is Couser v. Shelby County, United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, No. 1:22-cv-0020.

For Summit: Brian Boone and Michael Hoernlein of Alston & Bird

For Shelby County: not available

 

|