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Floyd County joins effort to change IUB hearing schedule for carbon pipelines

Floyd County joins effort to change IUB hearing schedule for carbon pipelines
Floyd County Supervisors (from left) Jim Jorgensen, Mark Kuhn and Dennis Keifer, along with County Auditor Gloria Carr, watch a video about Charles City that Kuhn used to demonstrate the potential type of video that could be produced to illustrate the path that carbon dioxide transfer pipelines would take through Floyd County. Press photo by Bob Steenson
By Bob Steenson, [email protected]

Floyd County will join the effort to get the Iowa Utilities Board to change the announced schedule for hearings on a carbon dioxide pipeline project, and will seek to be able to introduce video evidence when those hearings take place.

The board again discussed the pipeline projects at its meeting this week, including approving the latest bill from the law firm the county hired to represent it before the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB), and receiving an update from board Chair Mark Kuhn on the latest developments.

“There’s a lot going on about these pipelines, not only in the the Legislature but in the IUB, so I think it’s really appropriate for me to bring you up to date on where this is at and then ask for your support in what I would hope to add to this hearing,” Kuhn said.

On Jan. 24, Ahlers & Cooney, the Des Moines law firm the county hired, filed a petition with the IUB to intervene in both the Summit Carbon Solutions and Navigator CO2 pipeline permit applications, as well as to help draft an ordinance that would control where hazardous liquid pipelines can be built in the county.

“Part of the reasoning in that petition to intervene was based on the previous Board of Supervisors filing a letter in the Summit docket regarding their concerns. … Among those concerns were impacts to public drainage infrastructure, private farm tiles, public safety, economic development and the use of eminent domain for the purchase of private benefit,” Kuhn recounted, noting that the proposed pipeline would go through the Avenue of the Saints Development Park.

A Feb. 17 order by the IUB set the procedural schedule for the hearings on Summit Carbon’s construction permit application, but some people, including Josh Byrnes, one of the IUB board members, have protested the timing and the length of time allotted for the process.

The IUB set aside three days in October this year to hear public comments on the proposed Summit Carbon Solutions Pipeline application, and set three months after that for evidentiary hearings

A technical conference has been set for March 15 in the Iowa Utilities Board hearing room at its office in Des Moines, to hear from the parties about the schedule and to provide information about how the board plans to conduct the hearings.

Kuhn said he was going to have the attorney representing the county before the IUB, Tim Whipple, ask the board if it will allow video evidence to be included in the permit process.

“Maybe it’s because I have a background in teaching or I have served in the Legislature, whatever, I just think a different perspective, showing the concerns that we have, would be very effective in telling the utilities board what is unique and what is different about Floyd County,” Kuhn said.

He then showed a couple of videos to the board.

One was a drone flight video created by the county’s drainage district engineering firm, Bolton & Menk, showing where improvements need to be made in a county drainage district. The other was a promotional video for Charles City that was created for the Charles City Area Development Corp. by Jake Buss of Marathon Videography in Charles City.

Kuhn said he had talked with Buss about the potential of creating a video for use as evidence for the Summit Carbon hearings.

“What we settled on was a drone flight video showing the proposed route of the Summit Carbon Solutions hazardous carbon pipeline as it approaches the city of Charles City and bisects the Avenue of the Saints Development Park, approaches the city of Rockford in close proximity to the Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock’s school, and shows other parts of the county. There’s one spot here where both carbon pipelines might cross, and there’s numerous crossings for secondary roads, railroads, four-lane highways,” Kuhn said.

“The video proposal would shoot those spots and explain why we believe the location of Summit’s pipeline in proximity to the homes, hospitals, schools, livestock confinements, and businesses, poses a threat,” he said.

Also included in the video project would be a voice-over narration that would highlight the objections and concerns of the Board of Supervisors, the city of Rockford and the Charles City Area Development Corp., he said.

The video could also be used as the county is developing the ordinance regulating pipeline placement, he said.

Kuhn said Buss has stated he could probably produce such a video for about $1,000 to $1,500, depending what the county wants included, and the cost would be paid with American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

The board approved allowing attorney Whipple to ask the IUB if it will allow video testimony.

Kuhn also said the proposed ordinance regulating pipeline locations would be ready for the board to look at soon, then once the board gives it its approval it will be sent to the county Planning and Zoning Commission for its approval.

County Auditor Gloria Carr asked why the P&Z commission wouldn’t see the ordinance first then pass it on to the supervisors, as it typically the process.

Kuhn said the process was being driven “from the top down” and would come back to the supervisors after P&Z had it.

The Board of Supervisors also approved the most recent bills from Ahlers & Cooney regarding its work on the pipeline subject, for $6,160 for work done for Floyd County exclusively, and for $238, Floyd County’s one-fifth share of $1,190 for work the law firm had done for a group of five counties – Floyd, Shelby, Emmet, Kossuth and Dickinson counties – that it is representing before the Iowa Utilities Board.

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