This is the first in a series of blogs on carbon pipelines, with the purpose of providing neutral, fact-based information.
Carbon pipelines have been a contentious issue in rural communities in recent years, and some state legislators have taken action. In Iowa and South Dakota, several bills addressing major issues around the pipelines have been introduced. In Minnesota, current activity is predominantly being addressed by the Public Utilities Commission.
Most of the Iowa bills have been introduced by Sen. Jeff Taylor and have been assigned a subcommittee within the Senate Commerce Committee. Companion bills for all of Taylor’s introductions have been filed in the house by Rep. Tom Jeanery and all were filed in the House Judiciary committee. There has been consistent support and opposition for all of these bills. The Iowa Farmers Union and the Sierra Club have registered in support of all the bills proposed, while the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, several trade unions, and the pipeline companies seeking development in the state have all registered against the bills. Below are brief summaries detailing the bills and what they are seeking to accomplish.
- Senate File (SF)101/House File (HF) 308/ HF 342 - This bill repeals the Iowa Utilities Board’s power to grant eminent domain to pipeline companies. The use of eminent domain has been a big topic of conversation during the development of carbon pipelines. A notable organization in favor of this bill is the Iowa State Association of County Supervisors, a private non-profit organization. An additional companion bill was filed in the house judiciary committee by Rep. Cindy Golding.
- SF 102/ HF 307 - This bill repeals the ability of a pipeline company to survey private land with a 10-day- written notice. This would offer more protections of private property rights for affected landowners.
- SF 103/ HF 310 - This bill requires pipeline companies applying for a permit and seeking a voluntary easement to acquire written permission from affected landowners. Once acquired, communications from the company would have to be limited to twice a month unless otherwise agreed upon by a landowner. A $1,000 fine would be paid to the landowner for each infraction.
- SF 104/ HF 311 - This bill would require companies that have been granted pipeline permits to acquire landowner consent from those owning 90% or more of the land parcels along the route needed to complete the project before eminent domain use can be approved. A notable group in support of this bill is the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.
As the session has progressed, additional legislation has been introduced.
- House File 238 - Introduced by Rep. Jeff Shipley, this bill would remove “liquefied carbon dioxide” from the list of hazardous liquids within Iowa’s code for hazardous liquid pipelines and Storage Facilities (Chapter 479B). This would remove CO2 pipelines from any of the regulations provided within this chapter including the use of eminent domain, safety regulations, land surveying, and financial fees. However CO2 pipelines would still be subject to federal guidelines for safety regulations. The bill was introduced on 2/8 into the Judiciary committee.
There has been more action in South Dakota’s Legislature, with more bills being introduced and by multiple parties. Several of these bills share a common theme centered around whether Carbon pipelines should be considered common carriers or changing eminent domain proceedings. Two of the bills have passed through their committees and the House of Representatives, HB1133 and HB1230. HB1133 would take away a CO2 pipelines ability to use eminent domain, while HB1230 gives landowners more leverage in voluntary easement discussions.
The term common carrier, mentioned in multiple bills within this section, is defined by Cornell Law as, “a person or a commercial enterprise that transports passengers or goods for a fee and establishes that their service is open to the general public.” Examples of current common carriers include railroads, airlines, and many oil, gas, and carbon pipelines.
Three bills have proposed changing how eminent domain power should be granted by requiring a certain percentage of affected landowners to voluntarily approve of its use.
- House Bill (HB) 1089 – Introduced by Rep. James Wangsness, HB 1089 would require notice and compensation prior to entry upon private land for the purpose of examination and survey. This bill relates to eminent domain and laws governing energy conversion and transmission facilities that require a siting permit. Current law states that after having filed a siting permit with the Public Utilities Commission, anyone seeking to conduct a survey or examination must give the owner or tenant 30 days written notice and make a payment to the owner. The bill adds that this notice must also include the anticipated date of entry and the name and contact information of the person who will be entering the property. It also specifies a compensation amount of $500. This bill was heard Feb. 6 and failed to pass through committee with a vote of 9-3 against.
- HB 1133 – Introduced by Rep. Karla Lems, HB 1133 states that a CO2 pipeline is not a common carrier. In combination with other South Dakota code, this would eliminate a carbon pipeline's ability to gain the right to use eminent domain. This bill was approved Feb. 6 by the House State Affairs Committee on an 8-5 vote with an amendment and sent to the house floor. The amendment added language stating that a waste product sent for geological storage in a manner that allows the shipper to qualify for a tax credit is not a commodity. On Feb. 9, the House of Representatives passed the bill with an amendment on a 40-28, however it failed to pass through the Senate subcommittee on a vote of 9-0.
- HB 1178 - Introduced by Rep. John Sjaarda, HB 1178 adds new requirements to the permitting process of pipelines. It requires applicants to obtain voluntary easements for at least 90% of the parcels necessary to install a pipeline. It would also require the attorney general to certify to the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission that the US Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has completed the rulemaking process and issued a final rule to safety procedures around CO2 pipelines. This bill was heard Feb. 6 and failed to pass through committee with a vote of 7-5 against.
- HB 1188 - Introduced by Rep. Sjaarda, HB 1188 adds a voting process for affected landowners. It would allow each property owner one vote per linear foot of pipeline on the owner's property. At least 80% of the votes cast would need to be in support of eminent domain for its use to be approved.This bill was heard Feb. 6 and failed to pass through committee with a vote of 11-1 against.
- HB 1224 - Introduced by Rep. Lems, HB 1224 would require verification of landowner permission from at least 90% of affected landowners before a pipeline company can file for a permit. This bill was heard Feb. 6 and the committee voted unanimously not to advance the bill.
- HB 1230 – Introduced by Rep. Marty Overweg, HB 1230 has to do with the proceedings of eminent domain condemnation cases. This bill would require a company with condemning authority to issue its final and best financial offer to landowners before condemnation proceedings. This bill was approved on Feb. 6 on the floor of the house with a vote of 65-3, however it failed to pass through the Senate subcommittee on a vote of 6-3.
Part 2 - Who regulates carbon pipelines?
Part 3 - Land-use processes for carbon pipelines