“Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain”. The Iowa motto is written in white letters on the blue streamers being carried in the beak of an eagle on the Iowa flag. Though it is hard to read, as the flag waves in the breeze, the message is powerful.
I write today, asking you to ponder the true meaning of the Iowa motto while you think about the issue of eminent domain for the three carbon capture pipelines that are proposed to be built in our great state.
The word liberty is a noun, meaning “The state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on ones way of life, behavior or political view.” The word oppressive is an adjective, meaning “Unjustly inflicting hardship and constraint, especially on a minority or other subordinate group.” The word subordinate is also an adjective, meaning “lower in rank or position.”
If the use of eminent domain is allowed for the carbon capture pipelines, our government will be taking away the rights of the landowners. We, the landowners, should have the liberty to choose whether or not to sell our property, or to make the choice whether or not to sign an easement. A forced easement or condemnation by means of eminent domain will oppress the landowner. The property owners should not be subordinate to the private investors of Navigator, Summit or Wolf. We should maintain our rights, and our Senators, Representatives and Governor Reynolds should help us maintain those rights, shield us from the oppression of these pipelines, and protect our liberties.
At the very first informational meeting that Navigator held in Lee County, back in December of 2021, a landowner asked Navigator why they don’t build the pipeline in the public right of way. The reply from Navigator was that it is cheaper to build on private land, and that building in the public right of way would increase the project cost too much. Well, that is not my problem. Nor is it any other landowners’ problem. Our liberties should not be infringed by these greedy companies so that they can save a few bucks.
If carbon sequestration truly needs to be done, then the win, win situation would be for the carbon capture pipeline companies to alter the route so that it can still be built, but only in the public right of ways OR on land whose owners willingly signed easements. This way, the property owners unwilling to sign easements won’t be affected, Navigator, Summit and Wolf still get to build their pipelines and collect the 45Q tax credits, and the ethanol industry can decrease its carbon footprint-Justice for all without infringing our rights.
Once these three CO2 pipelines are up and running, they will branch out, building additional carbon capture pipelines to other industries, which will lead to more private land being subjected to condemnation by means of eminent domain if laws are not enacted to protect the property rights of Iowans.
House file 368 is a bill that would require CO2 pipeline companies to get voluntary easements from landowners for at least 90% of their route before being able to use eminent domain to force easements
for the rest of the route. HF368 also protects county ordinances, places a moratorium on CO2 pipelines until PHMSA releases rulemaking and updates standards for hazardous liquid pipelines, bans construction of pipelines until permits in all states have been approved and more. HF368 passed the Subcommittee on February 21, 2023, and now needs to pass the Judiciary Committee.
If you value property rights, I urge you to please contact the House Judiciary Committee members, and ask them to strengthen and pass HF368; change miles to parcels and increase the threshold. Contact your local legislator, and ask them to support House File 368. Supporting bills to protect landowner rights does not mean that you are anti CO2 pipeline, or anti ethanol; it simply means that you prize your liberties and want to maintain your rights. Live by the Iowa motto!
The legislative session is closing soon; March 3, 2023 is the final date for Senate Bills and House Bills to be reported out of their committees, so you must act now.
West Point, Iowa
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