Need to Know with Jeff Angelo

Need to Know with Jeff Angelo

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The Pipeline And The Threat Of Eminent Domain

Need To Know extra features Jeff commenting on a topic that he didn't address on the show today:

One of the most emotional ongoing news stories in Iowa is the debate over creating a carbon capture pipeline that would run through private farmland in Iowa. Proponents of the pipeline say it will allow ethanol plants to produce low-carbon fuels, increasing the marketability of ethanol.

The proposal has spurred an eminent domain debate in Iowa - one the legislature has ducked so far as the Iowa Utilities Board considers approving the pipeline through Iowa.

We are in the the second week of a hearing by the Iowa Utilities Board as it considers granting a hazardous liquid pipeline permit to Summit Carbon Solutions.

To kick off the week, Iowa Capitol Dispatch reports, a debate arose over whether agents for Summit Carbon Solutions threatened landowners with eminent domain while negotiating with them for easements. Landowner Richard Davis said he was threatened:

He said a Summit land agent attempted to persuade him to sign voluntary easements by noting that if the company sought forced easements through eminent domain, it was likely his compensation would only be “a fraction” of what the company had offered. He said the agent also told him the company was certain to succeed with its eminent domain requests.

Another landowner says she wasn't:

Elizabeth Ellis, a Wright County landowner who also testified on Tuesday, said the land agents she negotiated with did not make explicit threats about eminent domain, although she was aware her land would likely be subject to it.

The company says agents aren't supposed to use the possibility of eminent domain as a threat:

Any Summit team member who is found to have pressured landowners around the possibility of eminent domain being used will be disciplined and, if such behavior continues, terminated by the company,” said Sabrina Zenor, a spokesperson for the company.

My take: Summit would definitely instruct its agents not to mention eminent domain because the company would be aware of the public relations fall-out of such a move. But I could see an agent, frustrated over how a negotiation is progressing, slipping up.

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