'It's gonna screw up everything': Boone County farmers decry proposed carbon capture pipeline

Danielle Gehr
Ames Tribune

An informational meeting ended with a call for Boone County farmers to band together in refusing easement offers to make way for a proposed 2,000-mile carbon capture pipeline Monday.

Summit Carbon Solutions wants to build a $4.5 billion pipeline that would permanently sequester biofuels plants' carbon emissions. Company officials tout the project's potential to create 14,000-17,000 jobs and sequester carbon equivalent to 2.6 million vehicles' emissions annually.

But the company's representatives were met with resistance at both Monday's presentation, which was held at Boone's History Center and attended by about 50 of the area's residents, and at a meeting on the project in Ames last month, where many with land along the pipeline's proposed route took issue with the project.

For Tom Kauffman, who owns land in Boone and Wright counties, the route would take the pipeline straight through his drainage tiles, which were installed in the last five years.

"It's gonna screw up everything," he said outside the meeting.

More:A company wants to build a carbon sequestration pipeline across 30 Iowa counties. Find out where.

The pipeline, which has been dubbed the Midwest Carbon Express, would connect to 12 Iowa ethanol plants and pass through four other states: Nebraska, Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota. The company claims the pipeline would bring these plants down to net-zero emissions.

The project would require land easements and potentially eminent domain, impacting many agricultural properties.

Monday's meeting was one of the dozens planned to be held in the 30 Iowa counties the pipeline would pass through. Last month, the same presentation was given at the Gateway Conference Center in Ames to inform Story County stakeholders.

While the pipeline could enter the northeast corner of Story County until it reaches the centrally located Nevada ethanol plant Lincoln Way Energy, the proposed route would impact 1.31 miles of Boone County in the county's northwest corner.

Summit Carbon Solutions COO Jimmy Powell said Monday that the route could still change — especially to minimize the effects it might have on Iowa's farmers.

'My family's been through this 4 times': Story County residents push back against carbon sequestration pipeline

Among residents' criticisms of the project Monday — which included safety and environmental concerns, as well as potential conflicts of interest involving appointees of former Gov. Terry Branstad — were farmers' fears that the project would be a repeat of the aftermath of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which left long-term impacts on agricultural land. 

Some of those impacted by the Dakota Access Pipeline, like Keith Puntenney of Boone, said they could be impacted by the Summit pipeline, too.

"You can't put topsoil back once you take it off," Puntenney said at Monday's meeting. "That's the problem. That's the problem with what's going on in here."

More, for subscribers: Some Iowa farmers who fought Dakota Access are in the path of world's largest carbon capture pipeline

Danielle Gehr is a politics and government reporter for the Ames Tribune. She can be reached by email at dgehr@gannett.com, phone at (515) 663-6925 or on Twitter at @Dani_Gehr.