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Landowners' Radio Ad Exposes Dangers of CO2 Pipelines with 911 Call from 2020 Explosion

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 3, 2022

Contact:
Jess Mazour, Sierra Club, 515-313-5253, jessica.mazour@sierraclub.org  

Landowners’ Radio Ad Exposes Dangers of CO2 Pipelines with 911 Call from 2020 Explosion

Chilling audio exposes carbon pipeline dangers to human life, livestock, as well as CO2’s ability to stall vehicles, endanger first responders

Des Moines, IA — The Iowa Easement Team, a landowners’ groups in Iowa that vehemently opposes the use of eminent domain for private gain to seize their property for proposed carbon (CO2) pipeline projects, on Monday released a radio ad campaign that uses actual 911 recordings from a 2020 carbon pipeline rupture in Satartia, MS to highlight the serious dangers to human life – including to first responders –  posed by an explosive release of toxic CO2 by these highly-pressurized pipelines.

In the radio ad–that will launch across rural markets in Iowa and other Midwest states where the proposed pipelines are routed–the narrator describes what happened during the 2020 incident in Satartia, MS where a carbon pipeline operated by Denbury Resources ruptured, causing an explosive release of carbon in an immense plume, which was later found by a government-issued report to be toxic for more than a mile from the site of the accident, which was caused by a girth weld failure following a landslide after heavy rain.

The ad then cuts to a 911 recording from a victim who is very concerned and confused about what is happening after her car has stalled – a direct result of the high CO2 concentration making the combustion engine nonfunctional – and her friend is having what she believes is a seizure

The 911 recording was used with permission from journalist Dan Zegart, who obtained it via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in the course of his extensive reporting on the pipeline accident for his article, “The Gassing of Satartia,” for HuffPost: 

(https://www.huffpost.com/entry/gassing-satartia-mississippi-co2-pipeline_n_60ddea9fe4b0ddef8b0ddc8f)

We are landowners in Woodbury County where some of our neighbors have both pipelines proposed to cross their property. There cannot be enough emphasis upon the danger these hazardous CO2 pipelines pose to humans, livestock and wildlife and the inability of volunteer rescue units to respond,” said Deb Main, Iowa Easement Team member and landowner in Woodbury County, Iowa.   

The Iowa Easement Team is growing its number of landowner members daily, holding regular meetings to inform landowners about the pipeline projects and the landowners’ legal co-op. Attorneys with Omaha-based Domina Law Group are currently defending Iowa Easement Team-affiliated landowners in court who have refused to allow pipeline surveyors onto their property. The Domina Law Group will also represent landowners filing as intervenors in state agency permitting processes in Iowa over the next year. 

In addition to radio ads, landowners with the Iowa Easement Team have raised funds to purchase billboards in Iowa along the proposed pipeline routes. 

Online version of the radio ad:
https://youtu.be/14bdGO1Yfrs 

Iowa Easement Team (IET)
https://iowaeasement.org 

Easement Action Teams LLC 
https://easementllc.org 

NWIowa.com: Antipipeline litigation has 'power in numbers'

Elijah Helton
Aug 20, 2022

“Brian Jorde is the main attorney for a group of landowners united against the pipeline. “There’s power in numbers with other like-minded, concerned Iowa landowners,” Jorde told NWIowa.com.

“We have to mass up and group together to try to fight against the power of the political machine and the millions and millions of dollars they can throw around to buy people off.”

“…Jorde is the managing partner of Domina Law Firm in Omaha, NE. He’s been monitoring Summit’s activities in jurisdictions across the Midwest. Jorde argued that Summit is trying to brute force its way along with its political and financial connections. “They are using taxpayer dollars to steal legal rights and property rights away from landowners. That’s who they are and that’s what they’re doing, and it’s got to stop,” Jorde told NWIowa.com…

“Like most folks against the pipeline, Jorde simply doesn’t buy it. To him, it’s just an unnecessary land grab without the consent of people who stand to make a vanishingly small return on a potential easement. Put simply, the lawyer said people should stick up for their property rights. “Get busy and get busy and get active, and we’ll help everyone through that process,” Jorde told NWIowa.com.

It’s been about a year since the carbon pipeline saga started in Iowa. From the beginning, activist groups have warned landowners — even if they’re merely uncertain about an easement — not to sign anything from corporations. The project is moving slowly, Jorde told NWIowa.com, and getting an agreement with Summit surrenders future leverage.

“There’s no rush, and there’s no urgency. These companies have no permits in any state that are required,” he told NWIowa.com. “We’re in the very beginning stages, so why would you sign anything?”

 

Des Moines Register: Judge rules names of landowners in path of carbon capture pipeline should be made public

Donnelle Eller, Aug. 16, 2022

“The developer of a proposed $4.5 billion carbon capture pipeline in Iowa must release the names of landowners who could be impacted along its roughly 680-mile route, a district judge ruled,” the Des Moines Register reports.

“Summit Carbon Solutions, an Ames company that has proposed building a pipeline to transport liquefied carbon dioxide, failed to win a permanent injunction to keep secret the names of thousands of landowners it said could be in the pipeline’s path… 

The Sierra Club has said Summit seeks to prevent the release of landowner information to shut down communication among Iowans who want to fight the pipeline.

“Summit vigorously fought to keep the landowner list confidential so the landowners could not form a unified opposition,” Jess Mazour, the Sierra Club’s conservation program coordinator, said in a statement Monday.

Iowa Easement Team landowners sponsoring billboards across state to oppose carbon pipelines, eminent domain

July 2022

Landowners and community members impacted by proposed carbon pipelines in Iowa have sponsored a series of billboards across the state, including in the Iowa Lakes region near Lake Okoboji this summer during the state fair season. Visitors from Minnesota and within Iowa report seeing the billboards on Hwy 71 near Milford.

The first series of billboards feature a rural setting and the face of Randy Thompson — a Nebraska rancher whose family previously faced eminent domain the Keystone XL, and worked with the Nebraska Easement Action Team to form a co-op of Nebraska landowners who successfully opposed eminent domain for KXL.

The second series of billboards will feature images of cropland destruction documented during construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, along with encouragement for Iowa landowners to form a legal co-op to challenge eminent domain for the proposed carbon pipelines.

 

Iowa controversy over proposed carbon dioxide pipeline; use of eminent domain rankles landowners

By: Isabella Basco, 3/25/22

EMERSON, Iowa (KMTV) — Summit Carbon Solutions is proposing to build a carbon dioxide pipeline dubbed “The Midwest Carbon Express” that would connect more than 30 ethanol plants in five Midwestern states: North and South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska, spanning more than 2000 miles. The pipeline would run through Iowa for more than 680 miles.

Attorney Brian Jorde is representing landowners opposed to the Summit pipeline.

“The problem is, the use of eminent domain, to take the land of farmers, homeowners so that they can make private profits off this project,” Jorde said.

South Dakota landowners question credibility of Summit Carbon Solutions owners, leadership

via Dakota News Now
by Beth Warden
7/21/22

“…In Iowa, a resident submitted her research findings to the Iowa public utility board, claiming ownership connections to SKE&S, which she says is also SK holdings, a company fined over 70 million dollars for defrauding US military contracts.

Attorney Brian Jorde with Domina Law Group represents South Dakota Landowners and has reviewed the documents. The Department of Justice Documents show SK Holdings pleaded guilty in 2018 and again in 2020 to Government Fraud. Another case was listed as a settlement, while another is still pending. “The South Korean entity has taken a 10% ownership in Summit carbon solutions. Is this who you want, owning operating a pipeline through your state?” said Jorde…

In addition to foreign interest concerns, others are questioning how the South Dakota Republican Party Chair, Dan Lederman, can fairly serve those he works for: the Party, Summit Carbon Solutions, and a foreign county. “Lederman filed with the Department of Justice that he’s lobbying for the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, their embassy, getting paid ten grand a month to do that,” said Jorde. At a recent Brown County Commission meeting, Lederman wore a shirt with a Summit Carbon Solutions logo. “I’m here as, as a representative for Summit to ask that you postpone this passing,” said Lederman. The commission approved a pipeline moratorium despite his request…

You know, this pipeline is not about South Dakota, okay. It’s about foreign entities and enriching billionaires and foreign countries,” said Jorde.

Des Moines Register: Carbon pipelines could extend ethanol’s viability, but some Iowa farmers say they’re not worth the tradeoffs

By Donnelle Eller
Des Moines Register, 12/16/21

Karmin McShane hiked from house to house, knocking on neighbors’ doors to talk about Navigator CO2 Ventures’ proposed 1,300-mile pipeline that will cut diagonally across Iowa.

The Texas company wants to slice through her family’s farm in Linn County, where she and her husband recently moved to help take care of her mother, who has dementia.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said McShane, who has been handing out signs to residents who, like her, oppose the project.

“My dad is 77. My mom needs care. And he feels powerless” to fight the pipeline, she said.

Navigator and Ames-based Summit Carbon Solutions have proposed buried pipelines to capture carbon dioxide emissions from some of the more than 40 ethanol plants in Iowa, the nation’s leading ethanol producer. Liquefied under pressure, the carbon dioxide would flow through the pipelines to a Summit site in North Dakota and a Navigator site in Illinois for deep underground storage.

The companies say the pipelines are needed to slash the carbon footprint of ethanol so the renewable fuel can remain viable as the nation pushes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.

But even though ethanol production absorbs half of Iowa’s corn crop, the nation’s largest, the companies are running into mounting opposition. Landowners, many of whom are farmers, are filing objections with the state utilities board and calling county and state leaders about the projects.

Supervisors in Kossuth, Iowa and Wright counties have filed objections to the projects, and more are expected to follow.

Jeff Quastad, an Emmet County supervisor, said most farmers support ethanol. But their concern about pipeline companies’ likely use of eminent domain to force the sale of property rights of way outweighs any fears about ethanol’s future.

Emmet is one of 15 counties in Iowa where both companies have proposed building sections of their pipelines.

“I haven’t talked with a single farmer who will voluntarily sign an easement. So I don’t see how they’ll go through this county without eminent domain,” said Quastad, whose board is drafting a letter opposing the project.

Quastad said farmers aren’t convinced the pipelines are the best way to extend the usefulness of ethanol, and they’re worried about the companies’ ability to build them without irreparably damaging the underground tiling that drains their fields.

Iowa is covered with a vast underground web of tiles that stretch across much of the state’s nearly 24 million crop acres.

“Agriculture is the biggest thing we have going. We have to have drainage,” Quastad said.

That pledge doesn’t reassure McShane and members of her immediate and extended families, who have five farms in the path of the proposed Navigator pipeline.

“They’re cutting right through the middle of the farm, not along the edges,” she said.

“My dad is just sick. His farm is bought and paid for. He’s never asked anything of anyone,” forgoing government subsidies along the way, McShane added. “Now a private corporation wants to take his land, and it’s not right.” In addition to crossing 36 Iowa counties, Navigator’s project, Heartland Greenway, would reach into Nebraska, Minnesota and South Dakota, as well as its destination, Illinois.

Summit, a spinoff of Bruce Rastetter’s Summit Agricultural Group in Alden, proposes building a $4.5 billion pipeline that would cross 30 counties in Iowa. The 2,000-mile Midwest Carbon Express pipeline would reach into Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota en route to its North Dakota storage area.

Valero Energy Corp., the world’s second-largest ethanol producer, with five plants in Iowa, expects that using Navigator’s pipeline will allow it to cut 3.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

The project, which the Fortune 500 oil and gas company is anchoring, is part of Valero’s plan to eliminate its carbon emissions by 2035.

“This really allows us to stay in business,” Kruger said. “If you don’t have that low carbon intensity score, you won’t have a place for your product.”

Nick Bowdish, CEO of Elite Octane, an ethanol plant near Atlantic in western Iowa, said the company hasn’t joined a pipeline project, but instead is investigating the possibility of sequestering carbon near the plant.

“Rather than sending the corn plant’s CO2 back into the air, we’d like to be part of a solution to bury it back in the earth and be net carbon-negative,” Bowdish said.

Iowa doesn’t have laws controlling underground injection, according to state Department of Natural Resources records that the Climate Investigations Center made public.

Elizabeth Burns-Thompson, Navigator’s vice president of government affairs, said at the meeting in Dickinson County that the pipeline is needed because the “requisite geology is not found throughout most of Iowa” to sequester carbon dioxide.

The Iowa Geological Survey, however, studied the issue three years ago and found that some areas in southwestern Iowa could be compatible.

Iowa has rock formations deep underground that are similar to those at the site near Decatur, Illinois, owned by ethanol producer ADM, where Navigator proposes to permanently sequester carbon. 

Reuters: U.S. Midwest carbon pipeline has secured less than 2% of key Iowa route, filings show

Reuters| By Leah Douglas
March 8, 2022

Landowners in Iowa have been slow to cede their property rights to a 2,000-mile (3,219 km) proposed carbon dioxide pipeline that would cut through the U.S. Midwest, an analysis by Reuters has found.

Summit Carbon Solutions said last month it had negotiated easements with hundreds of landowners along the pipeline route, marking a major advance for what it hopes will become the world’s largest carbon capture and storage (CCS) project. But in Iowa, the state that would host the largest section of the proposed line, the company has reported just 40 land easements, covering just 1.9% of its 703-mile traverse, according to a database maintained by the Office of the Iowa County Recorder and analyzed by Reuters.

The discrepancy raises questions about Summit’s progress in securing a route for the $4.5 billion project, dubbed the Midwest Carbon Express, which would transport carbon dioxide siphoned from ethanol processing facilities in five Midwestern states to North Dakota for underground storage…

On Feb. 1, Summit issued a news release in which its CEO, Bruce Rastetter, said, “we’ve had early success signing hundreds of pipeline easements with farmers who have a vested interest in our success.”

But as of Feb. 22, the date of the most recent available filings in Iowa, Summit had recorded only 40 easements containing 68 tracts of land and covering 13.6 miles of the pipeline route, according to the data reviewed by Reuters.

The four other states along the pipeline’s route – Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota – do not publish statewide easement records.

Asked to explain the discrepancy between its public statements and the land records, Summit told Reuters that the Iowa database does not reflect the most recent easement total due to administrative and other delays.

The company said it has paid over $17 million to landowners along the pipeline route so far, and that negotiating the rest of the route will take a year or more.

“Summit Carbon Solutions has already signed on several hundred parcels of land along the Iowa route, and many more across the five-state footprint of the project,” said Chief Operating Officer Jimmy Powell.

While Summit is not legally required to file the easement records, the filings protect the company from a future buyer or renter of the land claiming they were not aware of the easement and challenging it, said Wally Taylor, an environmental attorney who represents the Iowa chapter of the Sierra Club, which is opposed to the pipeline.

“You’d think they’d want to record these to prove what they’re saying,” he said.

Approval in Iowa is particularly significant to the project because the state produces a quarter of the nation’s corn ethanol, a fuel blended into gasoline. The Summit pipeline promises to drive down ethanol’s carbon intensity and make it a more competitive climate-friendly fuel.

Don Tormey, spokesman for the Iowa Utilities Board which handles pipeline permitting, said there have been approximately 868 public comments filed about the Summit project in the state.

Tormey said the IUB does not track the number of supportive and opposing comments, but a Reuters review of the comments found that the overwhelming majority – 98.9% – are opposed to the pipeline.

Many landowners are concerned that the pipeline would reduce their land value, damage underground drainage systems and present a safety risk in the case of leaks. They also object to Summit’s potential use of eminent domain.

“When you have a large number of landowners refusing to sign easements, that should send a loud message that this project is not wanted,” said one recent comment.

Summit has said it will restore the land over the pipeline to its prior condition and compensate landowners for the first three years of reduced crop yields.

Iowa Public Radio: Iowa landowners unite against use of eminent domain

Iowa Public Radio | By Kendall Crawford
February 24, 2022

“Iowa landowners are uniting to defend themselves against the use of eminent domain.

The newly formed Iowa Easement Team wants to stop Summit Carbon Solutions and Navigator CO2 Ventures from using eminent domain to build pipelines throughout Iowa. Hundreds of farmers in the path of the recently proposed carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) pipelines have jointly hired the Omaha-based Domina Law to lead their legal effort.

Domina Law managing partner and lawyer Brian Jorde said he believes the two companies should not have any power to use Iowans’ land without permission.

“The only way to combat that is to rise up, collectively together, make your voices heard and not be afraid to challenge the broken system,” Jorde said. “That’s what we’re doing.”

Earlier this month, Summit Carbon Solutions petitioned the Iowa Utilities Board for permission to use eminent domain. If granted, the company would be able to access private property without a voluntary easement and against the owners’ wishes.

The company boasts that its project could remove up to 12 million tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere each year. The 2,000 mile pipeline would run through more than 30 Iowa counties.

The proposed Iowa route of Summit Carbon Solutions’ carbon dioxide pipeline would run some 700 miles through 30 of the state’s 99 counties.
Courtesy: Summit Carbon Solutions
The proposed Iowa route of Summit Carbon Solutions’ carbon dioxide pipeline would run some 700 miles through 30 of the state’s 99 counties.

Kathleen Hunt received a call from Summit in August that her family’s land in Hardin County was in the path of the project. Despite not wanting to disturb the land that’s been in her family for five generations, she contacted a lawyer to begin easement negotiations with the company.

It wasn’t until Hunt heard about the Iowa Easement Team’s joint legal effort that she said she had any hope of preventing her land from being used in the project. She ceased negotiations and joined the group.

“It was a great relief, just to have the possibility that we had a chance or we had a choice,” Hunt said. “These are big companies with a lot of money and a single landowner doesn’t have the means to fight against these big companies.”

Domina Law has a history of organizing landowners against pipeline projects. They filed 200 lawsuits and appeals over the course of 11 years in an attempt to stop a crude oil pipeline from being built in Nebraska.

Landowners in the coalition will split litigation costs. The initial fee to join the Iowa Easement Team is $100, according to the Iowa Easement Team’s website.

Landowner Cynthia Hansen said the legal strategy group is needed after a bill that would limit the use of eminent domain failed to advance in the legislature last week. Hansen said she feels landowners need to continue to band together despite the drawback.

“It’s very frustrating. We don’t feel like the legislators are listening to the needs of the farmers. We feel like they’ve chosen the pipeline corporations over the farmers,” said Hansen, who owns land in Shelby County in western Iowa.

Brian Jorde of Domina Law strategizes with Nebraska landowners.
Courtesy Of Iowa Easement Team
Brian Jorde of Domina Law strategizes with Nebraska landowners.

The Iowa Easement Team is also requesting a meeting with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds. Jorde said the group’s members deserve to hear state officials’ stances on eminent domain.

Hansen said she wants state lawmakers to understand their rights as property owners.

“Why does a private company have a bigger say than the landowners who have had this land in their family for many generations?”

Oskaloosa Herald: Landowners form group to fight pipeline eminent domain

By KYLE OCKER, 2/23/22

“Iowa landowners have formed a new alliance group aimed to carry out a united legal strategy to oppose two proposed carbon pipeline projects,” the Oskaloosa Herald reports.

“The Iowa Easement team was formed at the landowners hired Omaha-based firm Domina Law. They will challenge the proposed pipelines by Summit Carbon Solutions and Navigator CO2 Ventures. The group says Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has failed to meet with landowners who are impacted by the projects. She created the Carbon Sequestration Task Force, and landowners say it was “stacked with pipeline insiders.”

“…Landowners and county officials have concerns about what the pipelines could do to the farm fields in the state, and also the use of eminent domain to force them into giving up right-of-way access to build the pipeline.

“I fear for the safety of our first responders, firemen, our water, our land, our freedom,” Shirley Linn, a landowner in Mahaska County, told the Herald. “So I’m refusing to sign an easement. I don’t want the pipeline on our land.”

“…Those interested in joining the Iowa Easement Team can visit www.iowaeasement.org for more information. The team has requested a meeting with Reynolds to talk about ending the pipeline project altogether, or aiding in the passing of legislation of Senate File 2160, a bill that would curtail the use of eminent domain.”

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