Key hearing for U.S. carbon capture pipeline begins in Iowa

By Leah Douglas

(Reuters) – Iowa residents living along the route of the U.S.’s largest proposed carbon capture and storage (CCS) pipeline told state regulators they were worried about possible ruptures and land takings at the start of a hearing that will determine the fate of the project.

The hearing, which could last weeks, is a major test for the $5.5 billion pipeline proposed by Iowa-based Summit Carbon Solutions, and for CCS, which the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden sees as a critical tool in fighting climate change.

Summit’s pipeline would span 2,000 miles (3,218 km) across five states – with the most miles in Iowa – and transport as much as 18 million tons of captured carbon dioxide from 35 Midwest ethanol plants to an underground storage site in North Dakota.

The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB), which will decide whether to grant Summit’s permit application, heard on Tuesday from landowners who have not signed agreements with Summit and could be forced under eminent domain law to hand over land if the project moves ahead.

Jessica Marson told the board she feared the pipeline could rupture and that its construction could harm her 80 acres of cropland.

“We are concerned about our safety, we are concerned about the community,” she said.

Summit told Reuters it has secured agreements from nearly 75% of residents along its Iowa route, accounting for 499 miles, and that it is working to sign on the 480 remaining landowners.

Summit also said its pipeline will be safe.

Along with landowners and Summit, the IUB will hear from ethanol companies, counties, the Sierra Club, the Iowa Farm Bureau, and other parties during the hearing in Fort Dodge.

Summit recently faced a setback in North Dakota, when regulators on August 4 denied its permit application, saying the company had failed to prove that the pipeline would not hurt the state’s citizens and environment. The company submitted a new application last Friday.

(Reporting by Leah Douglas; Editing by Andy Sullivan)