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The Threat of Carbon Pipelines Looms Large Over Iowa Midterms

In Iowa's midterm elections, we can stop the construction of hazardous carbon pipelines by electing a legislature ready to fight for us.

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by Emma Schmit and Mia DiFelice

In a political landscape cleaved more and more by division, one issue in Iowa has united folks from all walks of life: opposition to hazardous carbon pipelines. 

Three corporations have planned to build thousands of miles of pipelines through Iowans’ backyards. And they’re not above doing so without landowners’ consent. If the state grants them eminent domain, Summit, Navigator and ADM/Wolf could build on private land without an easement (the landowner’s express permission). 

These pipelines threaten the lives and livelihoods of Iowans across the state. And so, the movement against eminent domain has grown over the past several months. “No eminent domain for private gain” has become a rallying cry. 

Now, as the midterm elections approach, we know where Iowans stand. And Food & Water Action is doing everything we can to make sure we’re heard at the polls.

Carbon Capture Brings Only Risks, No Rewards

The proposed network of pipelines are part of corporate profiteers’ newest scam, “carbon capture and storage.” The pipelines will transport hazardous carbon dioxide gas from ethanol and fertilizer facilities throughout Iowa and the Midwest to injection wells.

Pipeline companies claim that these sites safely sequester carbon deep underground, but in reality, they often leak. And besides, most captured carbon is injected into oil wells to extract even more fossil fuels.

These companies say carbon capture is crucial climate action. But we know they’re lying through their teeth. Carbon capture projects in the U.S. have actually increased emissions, when accounting for all the dirty energy needed to power them.

Not only does carbon capture threaten the climate — it also poses dire risks to those who live near it. In the case of a leak or rupture, high amounts of CO2 can asphyxiate people. This kind of dangerous infrastructure has no place in backyards. 

In August, Summit began filing for eminent domain for 60% of its route through Iowa. Maps of their route show they may need more than that. They’ve had a year to wine and dine our politicians with unprecedented campaign cash and lobbying money. But they’ve failed to bring Iowans on board with their scam. We know our land isn’t worth what Summit’s offering.

Carbon Capture Companies Aren’t Playing Fair

In a sore loser move, Summit is now suing landowners in South Dakota and Iowa who have refused to grant easements. Texas-based Navigator has sued four other groups of Iowa landowners for refusing to grant the company access to their private properties. 

It’s only a matter of time before these corporations ramp up their efforts. But it will be our elected officials and public institutions that cast the final vote in this debate. Ultimately, state legislators will decide whether carbon pipelines have the right to eminent domain. 

This November, we can cast our vote for the candidates that stand with Iowans in opposing carbon pipelines.

It’s Not Just You — Carbon Pipelines Are Unpopular Among Iowa Voters

This year, Food & Water Action commissioned polling in Iowa by Change Research to see what Iowans really think of carbon pipelines.

We found that:

  • Only 35% of Iowa voters support the three carbon pipelines. 44% oppose them and 21% are unsure. 
  • 8 out of 10 Iowans oppose allowing private corporations to use eminent domain. This opposition crosses party lines. 
  • This is also true amongst voters who are favorable toward current Governor Kim Reynolds. 8 out of 10 of those voters oppose granting eminent domain to pipelines.

Our polling also found that the pipeline fight will affect Iowans’ votes this November. 

  • Nearly 3 out of 4 voters, Democrat and Republican alike, say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who supported eminent domain for carbon pipelines. 
  • 7 voters out of 10 want their elected officials to prevent carbon pipeline companies from using eminent domain. This holds true across party lines.

So far, our leaders currently in office have ignored the widespread opposition to eminent domain for carbon pipelines. Governor Reynolds, Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, Senate President Jake Chapman and House Speaker Pat Grassley killed several bills during the 2022 legislative session that would have taken eminent domain for carbon pipelines off the table. 

By the end of the 2022 legislative session, leadership had squashed all attempts at protecting Iowans from corporate abuse of eminent domain. But there is still time to stop these dangerous pipeline schemes. In the upcoming legislative session, we need elected officials who will fight for Iowans, not corporations. 

Representing Iowans Means Voting NO Against Carbon Pipelines

For more than a year, the movement opposing Iowa’s carbon pipelines has grown. Iowans from both sides of the aisle and from all walks of life have united to stop this threat. We have shown up to public meetings, called our representatives and even demonstrated at the governor’s mansion to make our opposition clear. 

This November, we will make our voices heard at the polls. It’s time to vote in representatives who will take our demands seriously. To stop these hazardous carbon pipeline scams, we need a legislature ready to fight for us; a legislature that will end the abuse of eminent domain for private gain.

We’re getting out the vote for legislators who will fight for us.