A group of landowners, lawmakers, and environmentalists are speaking out after the Iowa Utilities Board announced it would move the hearing on the proposed Summit Carbon pipeline from October to August. Anna Ryon, a former attorney with the Iowa Office of Consumer Advocate, says the landowner testimony was moved to first in the hearing along with the change in the date.
Ryon spoke during a conference call hosted by the Sierra Club, and says the new schedule puts the issue on the fast track and will make it tough for landowners to find the help they need.
Ryon says landowners are forced to sort of defend their land against eminent domain before actually hearing the pipeline company’s case.
State Representative Helena Hayes, a Republican from Mahaska County, says the House did pass a bill 73-20 that did several things, including requiring 90 percent voluntary easements before the I-U-B could grant the eminent domain for pipelines.
The Iowa Senate failed to pass the bill and it didn’t make it out of the session. Hayes says lawmakers who supported the bill plan are drafting a letter to send to state regulators in response to the hearing change.
She says representatives in the Iowa House know there are thousands of people who have not signed on to pipeline easements and she says as a lawmaker she would love to see another session to have more conversations about it. Hayes says this issue goes beyond Iowa, and everyone should keep the big picture in mind.
The Sierra Club’s Jessica Mazour says they are calling for the hearing to be delayed. She says they are concerned that with two new members on the Utilities Board, the new members are unaware of past processes and the detailed work that goes into this decision-making process.
Summit Carbon Solutions released this statement in response:
“Summit Carbon Solutions appreciates the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) establishing a procedural schedule where the public comment and hearing for our project begins in August, with a final permit decision expected to be issued prior the end of the year. This will enable Summit and the farming community to coordinate planting, facilitating construction within a single crop year. To date, Summit has signed more than 2,000 easement agreements with Iowa landowners accounting for 475 miles of our proposed project route in the state. We look forward to continuing to work with Iowa landowners, plus our 13 ethanol plant partners across Iowa, to advance our project through the regulatory process and support the region’s most important industries – agriculture and ethanol. “