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Floyd County files petitions to intervene in CO2 pipeline projects dockets

Floyd County files petitions to intervene in CO2 pipeline projects dockets
Several companies have proposed building multi-billion-dollar pipelines through Iowa and Floyd County to capture carbon dioxide from ethanol plants and other CO2 producers, liquify it and send it to be stored in underground geological formations in either North Dakota or Illinois for the other. The two projects that would impact Floyd County are Summit Carbon Solutions and Navigator CO2. Press graphic by Bob Steenson
By Bob Steenson, [email protected]

Floyd County has filed petitions to intervene in two carbon dioxide pipeline permit applications with the Iowa Utilities Board.

Board of Supervisors Chair Mark Kuhn, at the Charles City Area Development Corp. meeting Wednesday morning, during a discussion on a pipeline project, announced that the petitions had been filed this week.



“Yesterday, the Floyd County Board of Supervisors, through our attorney, Mr. Tim Whipple, petitioned the Iowa Utilities Board for an order permitting Floyd County to intervene in Summit Carbon Solutions petition for a hazardous liquid pipeline permit,” Kuhn said.

“Make no mistake, the Floyd County Board of Supervisors believes locating a hazardous carbon pipeline bisecting the Avenue of the Saints Development Park would obviate the marketability of the property, limit the ability to fully utilize the industrial park for needed economic development and future growth, and pose a significant public safety risk to residents of Charles City and numerous businesses located near the proposed pipeline route,” he said.

Whipple is an attorney with Ahlers & Cooney law firm of Des Moines who the county has hired to help it write a zoning ordinance dealing with location rules for hazardous liquid pipelines, and to represent Floyd and other counties in pipeline application proceedings before the Iowa Utilities Board.

Whipple on Tuesday had filed petitions with the Iowa Utilities Board asking for Floyd County to be allowed to take part in the Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline permit process, as well as in the Navigator CO2 Ventures project permit application.

The summit project would cross Floyd County from east to west in a line passing through the south part of Charles City and passing just north of Rockford. Navigator would connect the Valero Renewables ethanol plant near Floyd with the Navigator pipeline that would go from northwest Iowa to southeast Iowa, transporting carbon dioxide to Illinois for sequestering.

“The Floyd County Board of Supervisors have goals similar to other counties,” Whipple said via videoconference at the CCADC meeting, “The goals aren’t very much different from how the county would want to manage other large industrial developments or other uses of the land that can cause consternation by neighboring property owners, from confined animal feeding operations to large factory developments, gravel pits or solid waste developments. There’s all kinds of reasons to take a look at how you use land in the county,” he said.

“The supervisors want to develop an ordinance at the local level to express their goals about how land should be used in the unincorporated areas of the county, and they want to intervene in the two proceedings to make sure that the same goals and policy objectives are supported by the Iowa Utilities Board in the state permitting process,” he said.

“The concern is about the future usability of the industrial park, the tax base, and the supervisors have a concern that the current easement offer is maybe short-term gain at the expense of longer term economic development prospects,” Whipple said.

A county zoning ordinance would not affect the Avenue of the Saints Development Park, which is in Charles City city limits, but Kuhn said the reason to petition to intervene in the permitting process is to give the county the opportunity to be part of the decision-making process, presenting evidence such as testimony or briefs and requiring the Iowa Utilities Board to respond.

Floyd County is working with Shelby, Emmet, Montgomery, Palo Alto, Bremer, Butler and Harrison counties to hire Whipple to intervene in the pipeline permit process, sharing the potential $100,000 cost among them, Kuhn said.

The petitions filed with the Iowa Utilities Board on behalf of Floyd County this week are nearly identical for Summit Carbon Solutions and Navigator CO2 Ventures, except for references to the specific companies and a section in the Summit petition referring to the Avenue of the Saints Development Park, which the Summit pipeline would pass through but which the Navigator pipeline doesn’t come near.

The petitions notes that under Iowa Code, “the county’s board of supervisors may ‘exercise any power and perform any function it deems appropriate to protect and preserve the rights, privileges, and property of the county or of its residents and to preserve and improve the peace, safety, health, welfare, comfort, and convenience of its residents.’”

Both petitions state that the pipeline proposals have not stated the relationship of the projects to the county’s comprehensive plan or its zoning ordinances, “and the county desires to ensure that its local policies and requirements are considered in this proceeding.”

“Because of the potential impact on the county’s land use and the relationship to its zoning ordinances, the residents of Floyd County have unique and important interests in this proceeding that are best represented by the Floyd County Supervisors and that are not adequately represented by any other parties to this proceeding,” both petitions state, concluding by asking the Iowa Utilities Board to grant the county’s request to intervene in each pipeline’s permit process.

Summit Carbon is currently involved in two federal lawsuits, against Story County and Shelby County, regarding zoning ordinances those counties have passed that deal with pipelines.

Both lawsuits allege the county boards of supervisors are attempting to impose on the project requirements that are the exclusive province of state and federal regulators.

The two lawsuits filed by Summit argue that the federal government has the sole authority to regulate the safety of hazardous liquid pipelines, and the Iowa Utilities Board has the statutory authority to issue route permits.

In October last year, the Story County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance that establishes setback and other requirements for hazardous materials pipelines in the county in the interest of “public safety.”

In November 2022, the Shelby County Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance that would require Summit and other pipeline companies to obtain county permits for construction and would impose restrictions on any pipeline’s nearness to homes, schools and farms.

The Shelby County ordinance states that its intent is to establish a permitting process that will impose “conditions and safeguards when using land in the county for purposes of a hazardous liquid pipeline.” The ordinance says it is designed to “to secure safety from fire, flood, panic, and other dangers” that might result from the pipeline.

Summit files the lawsuits against the counties almost immediately after each ordinances was approved. The lawsuits are asking for court orders declaring the county ordinances are preempted by the federal Pipeline Safety Act and are invalid and unenforceable regarding the Summit project.

The Story County case has been set for trial Dec. 11 this year in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa Central Division. A trial date has not been set yet on the Shelby County case.


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