Summit Carbon Solutions meets with local stakeholders
Late last week, the North Dakota Public Service Commission denied a permit application to build a section of the Midwest Carbon Express. Iowa-based Summit Carbon Solutions was told they had failed to “meet its burden of proof to show the project will produce minimal adverse effects on the environment and upon the welfare of the citizens of North Dakota.”
Summit said they will re-apply and kept appointments in Iowa to tell landowners about the multi-state effort. David Miller was at one of those events.
Hunter Fors, Iowa Utilities Board: “All right. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We're gonna go ahead and get started. It is 12 o'clock, so out of respect for everyone's time, we're gonna go ahead and get started.”
Officials with Summit Carbon Solutions have begun requesting voluntary land leases along a new segment of its controversial Midwest Carbon Express pipeline.
Jimmy Powell, COO Summit Carbon Solutions: “...if you know you agree to, to execute an easement with us, you agree to a price, then we pay that a hundred percent upfront.”
Ground along the new route is being sought under a second permit. The gathering of leases was allowed to begin immediately following informational meetings held earlier this week in the northeastern Iowa counties of Floyd and Mitchell. The 31 mile long Absolute Energy Expansion will be added to the nearly 2,000 miles already covered in a previous permit request.
The main sticking point for landowners along the route is the potential use of eminent domain to get the project started.
Aaron Murphy, lawyer - Osage, Iowa: “...what if a particular landowner does not agree and eminent domain is used? What, what happens then? I mean, are you taking ownership of that strip of ground or are you still just taking an easement?”
Hunter Fors, Iowa Utilities Board: “...the board could rule on that and it'd be for an easement. So, um, in their other docket, they have some of those already. And it's an easement. It's not fee simple, it's not taking ownership.”
Kathy Carter, Rockford, Iowa: “ Those voluntary easements that got mentioned, quite a few of those are not so voluntary because of this. We'll give you the money. You get to keep it no matter what happens if the pipeline doesn't happen, there's no null and void clause in those easements. Make sure you have legal team look over those easements if you're thinking about signing it, because there's a lot of things in there that are not something you like to end up with.”
Jake Ketzner, Summit Carbon Solutions: “...the stated goal from Summit Carbon Solutions for the last two years is to reach 100% voluntary easements. That's the goal.”
Unidentified participant: “You guys are all nice, the people that are out in the fields are kind a nasty.”
Jimmy Powell, COO Summit Carbon Solutions: Well, ma’m, they all funnel up through me. That’s the case? Let me know. We have replaced people on this project because we didn’t think they were representing us well.”
The other issue most prominent at the meeting was safety.
Unidentified participant: "What's the life of the pipeline? "
Jimmy Powell, COO Summit Carbon Solutions: “That's a great question. So, um, we design for 25 years, because the commercial guys have to base their economics on something. But, um, if you design it, construct it, and install it and maintain it properly…we're designing for 25. I mean, we, we hope we're here long after I'm gone, which may not be too much longer, but long after I'm gone.”
If the permit for the expansion is approved, it will bring CO2 from the Absolute Energy ethanol plant in Mitchell County into the rest of the pipeline. The Midwest Carbon Express will transport liquified CO2 from 34 ethanol plants located across Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa to Summit’s underground storage facility in North Dakota.
According to the company, the $4.5 billion project is vital to the agricultural economy because it will provide carbon sequestration opportunities for the ethanol industry allowing it to reduce its carbon footprint. Summit plans to inject up to 18 million gallons of CO2 annually, or the equivalent of taking 4 million cars off the road every year.
An evidentiary hearing for the Iowa portion of the Midwest Express is scheduled for August 22.
For Market to Market, I’m David Miller.