Navigator says it’s ‘pausing’ efforts to buy land easements ‘in some parts of Iowa’

Source: By Donnelle Elle, Des Moines Register • Posted: Sunday, September 17, 2023

Northwest Iowa landowner Amy Solsma wants to believe a message she received from a Navigator CO2 Ventures agent, saying the Omaha company is no longer interested in buying access to her family’s farm for its $3.5 billion carbon capture pipeline.

Tessa Kostas, a Navigator land agent, texted Solsma and a neighbor, saying she was canceling her meetings with the families because the “project is getting shut down permanently,” according to text messages that Solsma shared with the Des Moines Register.

“I tend not to believe anything that they say,” said Solsma, whose family has farmed near Hartley nearly 100 years. “I sure hope they’re right this time.”

Last week, South Dakota regulators denied the company’s request to build a pipeline through the state. Navigator said it’s “pausing some of our right of way work in certain areas, like South Dakota and some parts of Iowa,” while the company assesses the South Dakota decision. The written ruling hasn’t yet been released.

In the meantime, Navigator said it’s “releasing a few of the land agent contract teams working on behalf of the project,” the company told the Register in an email.

“The remaining land teams will be reallocated to ensure coverage across the footprint and continue conversations with landowners,” the company said. “Navigator remains committed to project development in a collaborative fashion, and is continuing to work towards that goal.”

South Dakota residents are getting the same message, according to the Dakota Scout, an independent Sioux Falls publication. “The project is getting shut down permanently,” read correspondence sent between a Navigator representative and at least one landowner that was reviewed and corroborated by The Dakota Scout.

“Negotiations are no longer on the table because the project is getting shut off,” the Dakota Scout reported.

Navigator has proposed building about 800 miles across Iowa to capture carbon dioxide from ethanol, fertilizer and other industrial ag plants, liquefy it under pressure and pump it via the pipeline to Illinois, where it would be sequestered deep underground.

Altogether, Navigator wants to build 1,300 miles of pipeline across Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota and South Dakota. Two other companies — Summit Carbon Solutions and Wolf Carbon Solutions — also seek regulatory approval to build hazardous liquid pipelines in Iowa.

State regulators are considering Summit’s request in an ongoing hearing in Fort Dodge.

Navigator and Wolf seek to sequester carbon in Illinois. Summit proposes storing carbon in North Dakota.

The companies say the pipelines are needed to help ethanol and other industrial ag companies remain viable as the nation seeks to cut in half by 2030 greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. The federal government is offering rich tax incentives to help industrial agriculture cut its carbon footprint.

The projects have sparked widespread opposition, with Iowa landowners, residents and politicians concerned about pipeline safety, their impact on farmland and underground drainage tiles, and the use of eminent domain, which would enable companies to force unwilling landowners to sell them access to their property for the projects.

Solsma said she shares many of the same concerns that others have, but Navigator and Summit’s bid to use eminent domain top her complaints. Wolf has said it doesn’t plan to seek eminent domain powers.

“It’s like saying someone saying, ‘Well, I’m gonna move into your house and live in your second bedroom. And I can do whatever I want … you don’t have any say,'” Solsma said.

South Dakota regulators also denied Summit’s pipeline permit request this week, on the first day of the hearing, saying the company is unable to use the proposed pipeline route, with four counties adopting ordinances that establish greater setbacks than mandated under federal law.

Summit Carbon Solutions said Monday it plans to refile its permit request for the $5.5 billion pipeline. It was the Ames’ company’s second denial.

On Friday, North Dakota regulators are expected to weigh Summit’s request they reconsider its application. Last month, the North Dakota Public Service Commission denied the Ames company’s request to build the 320-mile portion of its pipeline across the state.

Donnelle Eller covers agriculture, the environment and energy for the Register. Reach her at or 515-284-8457.