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As IA Session Winds Down, Eminent-Domain Question Lingers


Monday, April 11, 2022   

Iowa's legislative session could wrap up this month, but one of the unresolved issues surrounds landowner rights that intersect with proposed underground carbon-capture pipelines.

Even with adjournment near, opponents of the planned pipelines have ramped up pressure on the state to bolster eminent-domain laws.

Private companies want to build underground pipes to transfer liquid carbon dioxide from ethanol plants for storage in other states. They're trying to secure property across certain counties to construct the lines.

Marian Kuper owns land in Hardin County and said by not protecting residents who won't volunteer their land, Iowa risks a nightmare scenario.

"This is throwing careful long-term tillers of the soil and lovers of Iowa - the beautiful land - under the bus," said Kuper.

Kuper recently spoke at a rally hosted by a coalition opposed to these projects.

A bill earlier this session would have restricted eminent domain in these situations, but it was pulled back. A new measure calls for a year-long moratorium, but skeptics say it doesn't go far enough.

The companies say carbon capture helps reduce harmful emissions, but landowners worry about property values, and environmental advocates say the approach is unproven.

The moratorium bill has cleared the House, but its future amid the waning session is uncertain. Kuper contended policymakers who favor these projects are more concerned about re-election and campaign contributions than hearing from those who have genuine concerns about how they're affected.

"Money drives this whole thing," said Kuper. "It's all that drives it."

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds is seen as a key supporter of these types of projects. Last year, Reynolds created a Carbon Sequestration Task Force, which she chairs.

But opponents have argued it doesn't include experts who could provide input on the science behind carbon capture, and has too much influence from industry leaders.

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