Another pipeline company sues Iowa landowners for survey access

By: - September 26, 2022 11:49 am

Summit Carbon Solutions’ pipeline would be built across large areas of western and northern Iowa. (Iowa Utilities Board filing)

Summit Carbon Solutions filed lawsuits last week against three sets of northern Iowa landowners who have allegedly prevented its agents from surveying their properties, according to court records.

The company is in the process of finalizing the route of its proposed pipeline, which would carry carbon dioxide captured from Iowa ethanol plants for underground sequestration in North Dakota. It anticipates that state regulators might consider its request for a permit in the spring.

State law allows the surveys for hazardous liquid pipeline companies that have held informational meetings about the projects and have sent written notice to landowners about the surveys. Summit will use them to help determine the path and depth of its proposed pipeline.

“While the overwhelming majority of the survey work conducted up to this point has involved the landowner voluntarily offering the company permission to access their land, there have been a limited number of instances where Iowa law has been invoked to allow this critical work to continue,” said Jess Harris, the company’s director of public affairs.

Summit sent written notices via certified mail to each of the sets of landowners in Dickinson, Hardin and Kossuth Counties twice — in March and July — according to the company’s requests for injunctions. It alleges the landowners have refused to provide access to the properties but gave no further details of the encounters.

Court records show the company seeks court orders to prohibit the landowners from interfering with the surveys with the potential help of law enforcement officers to ensure compliance with the orders.

Another company, Navigator CO2 Ventures, has taken similar action recently against four sets of landowners, some of whom are arguing that the state law that allows the surveys is unconstitutional.

A court hearing to consider one of Summit’s injunction requests is set for Oct. 24. That’s for Kent Kasischke’s property in Hardin County, court records show.

Court hearings have not yet been set for the Daniel L. Wahl Family Trust in Dickinson County or the Dirk L. Hoover Farm Trust in Kossuth County.

Summit argues that further delays of the surveys would cause “significant harm to the public interest in addition to the economic harm that will result to Summit,” court records show.

The lawsuits were filed Sept. 19 in state district court. None of the landowners had filed responses to the claims as of Friday.

Summit says it has obtained easement agreements for about 52% of the proposed 680-mile pipeline route in Iowa. There is no threshold required by Iowa law for how much of the route must have voluntary agreements.

This article first appeared in the Iowa Capital Dispatch, a sister site of the Nebraska Examiner in the States Newsroom Network.

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Jared Strong
Jared Strong

Senior reporter Jared Strong has written about Iowans and the important issues that affect them for more than 15 years, previously for the Carroll Times Herald and the Des Moines Register. His investigative work exposing police misconduct has notched several state and national awards. He is a longtime trustee of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, which fights for open records and open government. He is a lifelong Iowan and has lived mostly in rural western parts of the state.