The Threat of Carbon Pipelines Looms Large Over Iowa Midterms


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.


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Carbon Pipelines Promise Midterm Battleground


by Phoebe Galt and Emma Schmit

If Iowa’s 2022 General Assembly did anything well, it was ignoring the interests of Iowans. Division marred this year’s legislative session — between parties, between chambers, between elected officials and their constituents. Governing has given way to petty drama. While legislators squabble, the people of Iowa lose.

A key issue elevated during the session was the use of eminent domain for three hazardous carbon pipelines. Summit Carbon Solutions, Navigator CO2 Ventures and Wolf Carbon Solutions have each proposed carbon capture projects through Iowa. Their schemes are ludicrous and dangerous. Each company plans to convert the polluting carbon dioxide emitted from ethanol facilities into hazardous liquefied CO2. Then, they plan to transport that CO2 via a network of high-pressure pipelines, across thousands of miles and five state lines. Why? To make a quick buck off the plentiful federal subsidies available for these projects.

Any one of these projects would be the largest carbon pipeline ever built. Each is a fool’s errand. Altogether, they would span nearly 2,000 miles across Iowa, posing serious risks to our land, our livelihoods and our future.

Carbon Pipeline Opposition Reaches Fever Pitch

On the ground, Iowans have united against these pipeline scams and the threat of eminent domain to build them. Earlier this year, more than 150 people flooded the Capitol Rotunda in Des Moines demanding that lawmakers stop eminent domain for these projects. Opposition has crossed parties, geography, class and more to form a strong, passionate coalition devoted to stopping any carbon pipeline. Recent Food & Water Action polling conducted by Change Research confirms this. We found that 80% of Iowans oppose the use of eminent domain for the proposed pipeline projects. Additionally, 73% are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports the pipelines. These voters cut evenly across the political spectrum, indicating that this will be a decisive electoral issue.

The movement to stop these pipelines is reaching a fever pitch; and the silence of Iowa’s leaders is deafening.

Iowans Refuse to Fund Dangerous Pipelines

Our state has opened its arms to corporate control for too long. The carbon pipelines may very well break the camel’s back. We might be “Iowa Nice,” but we will not be railroaded. We deserve better than to carry the risks for Wall Street’s reward; and the risks are many. They include:

These pipeline corporations expect Iowans to not only accept these risks, but to fund them with our land and our tax dollars. But we aren’t having it. In spite of dishonest, unscrupulous harassment tactics, Iowans are refusing to sign over their land to these greedy corporations. We have much better ideas about where our tax dollars can go. Instead of pouring more than $20 billion into these pipelines, why not invest in our communities? Iowa’s infrastructure is failing, social safety nets are being slashed, schools are consolidating and our emergency services rely on volunteers. We clearly have better uses for our public money than  to line billionaire’s pockets. 

Midterm Elections Offer Promise Against Pipelines

Iowans have made our demand clear: Stop the proposed carbon pipeline scams. The pipelines have faced immense pushback from local governments, landowners, schools, community organizations and activists. Despite this, few of Iowa’s elected officials have taken meaningful action to address the concerns of their constituents.

With the close of the 2022 General Assembly session, we look ahead to the midterms. It’s time our elected officials remember that our votes must be earned. Iowans deserve leaders that will fight for us, not cower to corporate interests. When we vote this fall, we vote for our land and our lives. Elected officials must know — we will not be sold out.

In June, the Iowa Democratic Party unanimously ratified a grassroots-led platform, becoming the first state party to formally oppose carbon capture. Now, more than half a dozen midterm candidates are running campaigns on anti-pipeline platforms. Grassroots Democrats and Iowa voters alike want action from state elected officials to stop these carbon pipelines. With our votes this fall, we’ll ensure that not a single project breaks ground. 

Help us elect leaders who’ll keep pipelines out of Iowa!


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