Opposition to Summit’s CO2 pipeline continues to grow

While corporate ag executives continue their attempts to get rich by building CO2 pipelines throughout our state, everyday Iowans have had enough. Opposition continues to grow against Summit Carbon Solutions and its owner, Bruce Rastetter.

I witnessed this grassroots opposition at a public meeting in Stanton in mid-May. It was one of several this month that was organized by Iowa CCI members and our allies, and featured farmers and landowners who live along the proposed pipeline route. Across the board, their experiences have been a nightmare.

One farmer talked about property values, saying that a CO2 pipeline would decrease the value of nearby acreages by 25-50%. Another farm couple talked about Summit surveyors trespassing on their property multiple times, including one incident with 14 surveyors at the same time. The couple also said their Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contract would be adversely impacted if the pipeline is built. And another landowner, with the proposed pipeline just 288 feet from her home, spoke about the lack of adequate safety standards.

The safety issue hit home again in April when an Exxon CO2 pipeline ruptured in rural Louisiana. A spokesperson for the Pipeline Safety Trust (PST) told Verite News that current safety regulations are outdated. “This recent unacceptable leak . . . highlights the immediate need for robust and comprehensive carbon dioxide pipeline safety regulations. This incident could have been much worse,” PST said.

The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) – due to public pressure and concerns about the health and environmental risks associated with CO2 spills and leaks – is going through a safety rule update. They have yet to issue final rules, and the clock is ticking.

Opposition continues to grow in northwest Iowa, too. In mid-April, Dickinson County became the latest to pass an ordinance establishing setback distances from homes, schools and animals. In response to these local actions, Summit is showing its arrogance and disregard for the democratic process.

Summit CEO Lee Blank recently told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier they would ignore a similar safety rule proposed by Bremer County, stating “we do not intend to comply with the ordinance.” Blank went further: “We are constantly changing our route — to the tune of more than 6,000 route variances, in direct response to feedback from landowners and stakeholders.”

6,000 route variances, really? Let’s do the math: Summit has been pushing its pipeline for nearly 3 years. 6,000 “route variances” over 3 years means the company has been changing its proposed route, on average, about 5 times per day. That’s hard to believe. Summit has a credibility problem, as far as I’m concerned.

We’re not going to let Summit mislead us or bully us. We’re going to continue fighting the good fight and doing everything we can to stop this pipeline boondoggle. Public hearings and local meetings have been packed with people who don’t want the threat of CO2 pipelines in their communities. We’ve stopped them so far. And let’s not forget — Summit’s pipeline is not inevitable as long as we keep up the fight.

Barb Kalbach is a fourth generation family farmer, registered nurse, and board president of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. Barb can be reached at barbnealkalbach@gmail.com.


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