ClimateNews & Opinion
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:
- the seizure and degradation of our farmland,
- increased human trafficking rates associated with itinerant workers,
- asphyxiation or long-term brain damage should a pipeline rupture,
- and billions of wasted taxpayer dollars.
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!