Residents gather to stop pipeline

About 70 people meet in West Point to discuss stopping hazardous pipeline production in Lee County


WEST POINT – “A death by a thousand pin holes”.
That’s how rural West Point resident Ray Menke said the effort to build a carbon dioxide pipeline through Lee County will be defeated.
Menke hosted about 70 residents under the shelterhouse on the square in West Point Thursday night.
The Heartland Greenway carbon sequestration pipeline that is being proposed to run from South Dakota into Illinois is planned to run along the western and northern edges of West Point.
About 1,000 feet north of the city limits, according to area farmer Andrew Johnson.
Johnson said people need to get active and push city and county officials for zoning ordinances and get them in place before pipeline construction begins.
He said the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) officials won’t have new guidelines in place until at least the end of 2024. PHSMA is looking into the potential risks of transporting liquid carbon dioxide through pipelines, especially after a rupture in Satartiah, Mississippi sickened almost the entire town a mile away.
“We need to push our city and county officials to get zoning in place to stop this pipeline. They can do it, they’ll get sued and they’ll probably lose, but it will slow things down,” Johnson said.
A sentiment echoed by Ted Stein, another Lee County resident with a century farm who’s been advocating against pipelines including the NuStar anhydrous ammonia pipeline that’s already been approved.
“We have to slow them down and the only way to do that is by saying no when they come on your property. You can do that. Just say no. And then we need to make it expensive for them. Make them go to court to get orders allowing them to come onto your property,” Stein said.
“We have to make it expensive and slow.”
West Point Mayor Joseph Loving said he has spoken out about the pipeline at meetings with elected officials. The last one being a legislative forum put on by Fort Madison Partners in Montrose.
“I told them building that pipeline will inhibit our growth to the west and north. I told them we are opposed to this pipeline and I am opposed to this pipeline,” Loving said.
However, the first-term mayor who took over after the passing of long-time Mayor Paul Walker, said he’s been told the city doesn’t have a two-mile jurisdiction to work in outside the city limits so he’s not sure what the city can do.
“I’ve talked with our attorney and they’ve recommended we wash our hands of it, but that’s not me. I don’t want to wait. I don’t think that helps anyone.”
Lee County Supervisor Ron Fedler was present at the meeting and said the pipeline needs to be stopped. Fedler said the pipeline serves no public good and that’s a requirement in taking private land through eminent domain.
“I’ve just heard recently that they can take this carbon dioxide and make methane to fuel equipment pretty easily. With Illinois not giving them a permit to build the pipeline, that’s what they’re going to do and turn a huge profit.”
Profits were also brought up by Menke who said at the end of the day, the tax credits and profits generated by the pipeline will be going overseas to China.
“When these tax credits are available, China’s just going to say they’ll take theirs in cash and all that money will leave the country,” Menke said.
He passed out forms for people to sign and write their opposition to the pipeline. He said the forms should be uploaded to the Iowa Utilities Board as separate complaints. Doing them all at one time in one package would be registered as one complaint. Individually they’ll all be listed as separate complaints.
The pipeline is planned to run 1,300 miles from South Dakota through Iowa and into Illinois with extensions into Nebraska and Minnesota hooking up with ethanol and fertilizer facilities along the way capturing their carbon dioxide release. The path of structure will run from northwest to southeast Iowa and was intended to cross under the river into Illinois. The pipeline is expected to cost more than $3 billion to build.
Advocates say carbon sequestration will help improve the climate and global warming. Opponents say the technology will take needed carbon dioxide out of the air and is just a red herring for profits to be taken in the conversion to methane, along with tax credits.
The issue has been emotional since its project was unveiled in 2021. Area landowners to be impacted by the pipeline have called out area legislators for the past 12 months on stopping the land grab and heavy tactics by contractors trying to secure easement agreements.
Former Supervisor Don Hunold said only 13.9% of the land for the pipeline has been secured through voluntary easements, the rest of the property owners are saying no.
Navigator CO2 pulled its original request with the Illinois Commerce Commission in January and plans to submit an enhanced proposal with additional sequestration sites after several Illinois counties passed temporary moratoriums on pipeline construction until more information was available on the safety of the pipelines.
Lee County Supervisors have been discussing the possibility of joining a lawsuit against the Iowa Utilities Board. A representative of an attorney looking to file the suit met with supervisors two weeks ago about the idea. Those conversations are ongoing, but to date, no counties have agreed to be the plaintiff in the suit.

pipeline, Navigator, West Point, carbon dioxide, sequestration, community meeting, Heartland Greenway, Ted Stein, Ray Menke, pen City Current, Lee County, news,


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