'We owe it to the landowners': Story County supervisors hear from CO2 pipeline inspector
A potential inspector for two carbon-sequestration pipelines proposed for Iowa presented its plan to the Story County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
If hired, Snyder & Associates Inc. would be tasked with protecting landowners from any damage that construction of the hundreds of miles of pipelines could cause.
Ames company Summit Carbon Solutions and Navigator CO2 Ventures plan to invest millions of dollars to sequester carbon from ethanol plants, with pipeline running through dozens of Iowa counties, as well as Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Illinois. The projects have been controversial among landowners and those opposed to the use of eminent domain.
Both pipelines, if given permits by the Iowa Utilities Board, would run through Story County. A third company, Wolf Carbon Solutions, is planning to run a pipeline in eastern Iowa. As part of the projects, each county would hire an inspector to ensure crews are following protocol.
"First and foremost, our obligation is to the county and to the citizens," Synder & Associates transportation business unit leader Wade Greiman said. "We're here to make sure your interests are taken care of, as well as the property owners."
After the Dakota Access Pipeline left damage to property across Iowa, many opponents have used the dozens of informational meetings to speak against the CO2 pipelines.
Though the companies offer reimbursement for loss of yields, farmers worry over how damage could cause inferior production for years following.
Story County is the seventh county to talk to Synder & Associates, but not all counties, including Story, have officially hired the company.
Even if they are hired, their work would be necessary only if the projects are approved for permits by the Iowa Utilities Board.
"If they get a permit," Snyder & Associates construction technician Kristina Paradise said. "That's the first big 'if.'"
Synder & Associates would be charged with maintaining documents and being present with each crew during construction in counties they serve. Paradise said the inspectors would have the authority to stop construction if issues such as wet conditions damaging to soil arise.
Paradise said that her background includes work for Columbia Pipeline and TransCanada on the Keystone Pipeline, among other pipeline projects, and that she has previously halted work on a project due to safety concerns.
Every time there is a violation, it will be sent to the supervisors, then to the Iowa Utilities Board, Paradise said. Work cannot continue until inspectors give an all-clear. The Iowa Utilities Board cannot revoke a permit but can prevent operation if there are unresolved issues, she said.
Snyder & Associates would also hold a meeting for all property owners impacted. Supervisor Linda Murken asked how the company plans to reach every property owner, as Summit Carbon Solutions fights to keep their names secret and Navigator has requested their list of names submitted to the Iowa Utilities Board remain confidential. Even the Board of Supervisors has struggled to get a list of landowners. Paradise said they will do the work of finding each landowner by looking at the route, saying it is all public record.
"I don't know why they're holding it secret," Paradise said. "We owe it to the landowners."