Carbon pipeline company sues Iowa residents for survey access

Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 5:19 PM CDT
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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - A carbon pipeline company is suing two Siouxland landowners because they refused to allow a survey of their land.

The pipeline would transfer liquified carbon from ethanol plants and sequester, or bury, the carbon underground. Advocates say the pipelines are good for the environment, but opponents say the project would authorize eminent domain for a private, for-profit project.

Previously these pipeline companies have said they’ll work with landowners on a voluntary basis, but the Navigator Heartland Greenway pipeline sued for survey access in Woodbury and Clay Counties.

In their petition, the pipeline company wrote that an Iowa law allows them to enter a landowners property to conduct a survey to determine the exact route of the proposed pipeline.

But the landowners’ lawyer says the Iowa law conflicts with the state constitution and must be struck down.

“So Navigator’s position is they’re allowed to enter onto land against the will of the landowners to conduct any type of surveys that they don’t have to disclose, potentially removing items from the property. And the landowners have no say; we think that’s a problem,” said Brian Jorde, an attorney representing hundreds of landowners.

Navigator Heartland Greenway seeks to build a pipeline across Iowa, entering Woodbury and Lyon Counties and crossing the state.

While the pipeline company says it hopes to build the pipeline on a voluntary basis, they could ask the Iowa Utilities Board to authorize the company to use eminent domain.

“‘Well, honey, it looks like they’re going to take it from us anyway. Gosh, golly, what did we do?’ No, they shouldn’t even have this right to begin with. It’s preposterous. And we have to restore landowner rights in Iowa, they’re so watered down. It’s just pitiful. And so that’s what we’re fighting to do,” said Jorde.

Navigator Heartland Greenway declined an on-camera interview for this story, but the company says they’re working to develop relationships with landowners across the pipeline’s footprint.

“We are making progress on easements and are signing additional tracts every day. This is a long process, and our teams are out working diligently to develop relationships with landowners across the 1,300+ mile footprint, and negotiating a fair and equitable compensation agreement,” the company said in a statement.

Either way, a ruling in district court is likely to be appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court.