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Pipeline Project Greenlighted in Iowa
By Todd Neeley
Tuesday, June 25, 2024 12:15PM CDT

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- The Iowa Utilities Board approved Summit Carbon Solutions' proposed carbon pipeline project in an order issued on Tuesday, clearing the way for the company to construct the Iowa segment of the pipeline that covers 688 miles in 29 counties.

The board cleared the way for Summit to use eminent domain to acquire the needed land to complete the project. The board has yet to grant a permit to allow construction to begin.

"After weighing numerous factors for and against Summit Carbon's petition, the board found that the service to be provided by Summit Carbon will promote the public convenience and necessity," the board said in its final 507-page decision and order.

"The board found Summit Carbon could be vested with the right of eminent domain, and based upon this finding, the board examined each of the 859 outstanding parcels subject to a request for eminent domain to determine, based upon the record, whether to approve, deny, or modify each request."

Summit Carbon will be required to submit "numerous revised exhibits" before the board issues a permit and prior to construction beginning.

The board also will require Summit to have at least $100 million in insurance and to "comply with certain construction methods" and to "ensure landowners and tenants are compensated for damages" that may result from the construction.

The order requires Summit to revise and modify the pipeline route on several parcels of land.

Summit continues to jump through regulatory hoops in South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska before launching construction on a 1,250-mile pipeline connecting to 57 ethanol plants across the Midwest.

The pipeline is considered to be an important factor in whether corn-ethanol plants will be a part of a nascent sustainable aviation fuel industry. Ethanol has the potential to be a key feedstock for SAF plants, if ethanol producers can further lower their carbon footprints. Carbon pipelines are considered to be the most viable way of doing that.

The Iowa Utilities Board held a public hearing on the proposal from Aug. 22, 2023, to Nov. 8, 2023.

Summit CEO Lee Blank said in a statement the project continues to maintain momentum.

"The momentum will continue as we prepare to file our South Dakota permit application in early July," Blank said. "We look forward to engaging with the state throughout this process and are confident in a successful outcome."

Summit Carbon Solutions said on Tuesday it has signed voluntary easement agreements with 75% of Iowa landowners along the route.

American Carbon Alliance CEO Tom Buis said the board's actions are important to the future of agriculture.

"This decision was the right one and will be transformative for the ag industry and Iowa's economy," Buis said in a statement.

"Capturing carbon to lower the carbon index to open new markets such as sustainable aviation fuels and higher blends for American consumers is the greatest opportunity for farmers since the buildout of the ethanol industry. The Summit carbon pipeline will lead to increased demand for corn, benefiting farmers and increasing farm income, and stimulating economic activity for ethanol plants and ag-related business."

Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, said the board did all it could to conduct a "thorough and fair" process in considering Summit's proposal.

"Despite the overheated rhetoric of a few, we must not forget that the overwhelming majority of impacted landowners support this project," Shaw said in a statement.

"More importantly, it was the correct decision based on federal and state law. It is encouraging to see the large amount of disinformation did not prevail. Today's decision creates monumental opportunities for Iowa farmers faced with falling prices and growing stockpiles."

The IRFA released the results of a study on the sustainable aviation fuel industry in January 2024.

That study found SAF production would demand an additional 770 million bushels of corn in Iowa while adding over $3 billion to the state's gross domestic product. The study found the typical 1,000-acre Iowa farm would see an additional $13,000 in annual income.

"Today's decision was the first formal step forward," Shaw said. "We hope and expect to see positive news in South Dakota and North Dakota in the near future. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and so are the prospects for boosting Iowa's farm economy."

Read more on DTN:

"Summit CEO: CO2 Pipeline's Time is Now," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

"Summit Carbon Wins at ND Supreme Court," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

"Poet to Add 17 Plants to CO2 Pipeline," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow him on social platform X @DTNeeley


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