Farmers plead with board to stop carbon pipeline

A 2021 yield map shows the production damage the Dakota Access pipeline cause property owned by David Ball of Donnellson. Ball and about a dozen other farmers asked Lee County Supervisors for help in opposing the next pipeline to come through the county. Courtesy images.

About 15 property owners ask Lee County Supervisors to join in opposition to Heartland Greenway


LEE COUNTY – A sentiment of opposition is growing in Lee County over a proposed carbon capture pipeline that will run diagonally through the county, if approved.

About 14 agriculture property owners attended Monday’s Lee County Board of Supervisors meeting to ask the board for support in opposing the project.

Navigator CO2 Ventures proposes to run a $2 billion pipeline from North Dakota southeast through Lee County and into Illinois, where it plans on liquefying CO2 and then sequestering it deep in the cavernous rocks of central Illinois.

The project, called the Heartland Greenway, would eventually carry 1.13 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois, and Iowa over 1,300 miles of pipeline.

But area farmers are asking the county to get their backs. Some of the farmers have had extended damage and profit loss due to the Dakota Access pipeline that went in 2016 and 2017.

Ray Menke sent a letter to Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds indicating the pipeline companies were running “roughshod” over the property owners who don’t believe in their cause. Menke said the pipeline will run 3/4 of a mile across his property with three right angles.

“At the informational meeting, they told us that this pipeline and pumping carbon a mile beneath the earth’s surface is all pretty much experimental and they did not deny that they will use eminent domain to do it,” Menke said.

He said that amounts to the Governor and legislature to allow a private business enterprise to destroy some of their business enterprise for an experiment.

Menke was conservation farmer of the year in 2017 for Southeast Iowa and has been featured in publications. He said he’s worked diligently to improve erosion control structures and improve water quality with private resources only to watch surveyors mark where they will rip it up.

He said any money compensated will be spent repairing damage to the erosion control measures and only addresses the agricultural value of the land. Any future development value is not only lost, but not considered.

He said Dakota Access did a poor job repairing tile lines and terraces.

“The Iowa Utilities Board seems to be a worthless rubber stamp as long as the pipeline company jumps through the right hoops,” Menke said.

“I keep thinking this can’t be happening in Iowa – selling our souls and resources for the offered price or less, by force. Eminent domain has to go away for these experimental private enterprises. It’s the only leverage we have to keep our precious resources intact.

“This thing is a bomb, is what it is. 2,500 to 3,000 pounds of pressure is what this thing’s supposed to have.”

Menke said plans are for the lines to stay 1,000 feet away from homes. He said that alone tells how dangerous the experiment is. If you talk to them, they say federal statutes say you can build up to 50 feet away from the line.

Dave Ball of Donnellson said Dakota Access crushed 69 tile lines and cut two foot ruts. He said it took five months for anyone to talk with him, so he we went to the IUB who said there was nothing they could do at that point.

“Their response was, ‘we gave them permission to run product through the pipeline, there’s nothing we can do. You’re gonna have to file civil litigation’.”

Ball said they got lawyers involved at that point and it took more than a year for the situation to get cleaned up. He said he called the IUB out at one of the recent informational meetings on the pipeline held in West Point.

“They said I should I write a letter to the utility board, which I did. But I feel like they just blew me off,” Ball said.

He presented yield maps of his property that show a clear delineation of where the Dakota Pipeline ran through his property and a similar pattern of yield loss as a result of the construction.

Former supervisor Don Hunold asked the board to join the farmers in support of keeping the pipeline out of the county.

“We need your help. We’re not big enough to get it done, but with your support, maybe. I don’t think we’re the only county fighting.”

Andrew Johnson, of West Point, said there are 30 counties in Iowa in opposition to the pipeline. Johnson is an employee of a pipeline company.

“I work for a pipeline company. Some of you know me. I work for a pipeline company and put that pipeline in the right of way where all the other utilities go.”

Jeff Weisinger of Fort Madison asked the board to reject the idea of the pipeline as much as they can.

“Personally, it’s a living nightmare for my brother and me. Approximately 2 miles of this is going to go through our ground. About 38 tiles is what we’re thinking. It’s a fiscal nightmare for what I will profit from,” Weisinger said.

Supervisor Ron Fedler told the group that he was getting phone calls last week. He said he would support a letter from Lee County Supervisors opposing the pipeline going through Lee County.

“Maybe the board of supervisors could influence them if you have enough counties get on board to say enough is enough. Once you get a pipeline through, it seems like they just start coming from every place, and where does it stop. Like you say, it’s not improving the ground,” Fedler said.

Fedler said he’s heard that if the pipeline would blow with liquid carbon under high pressure it would be dangerous to anyone nearby.

“The minute it hits the air it vaporizes and it removes all the oxygen from the air and if you’re close enough, you’re gone,” Fedler said. “I think you guys are right. Enough is enough.”

Board Chairman Matt Pflug said the board is hearing the farmers loud and clear.

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