Bill aimed at protecting landowners from eminent domain killed in committee

Published: Feb. 17, 2022 at 10:47 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A group of people protested at the statehouse on Thursday after a committee pulled a bill from its agenda that would protect landowners from eminent domain.

The group worried the decision could put them at risk as part of two proposed pipeline projects.

“It was simply cowardly,” Jessica Wiskus, one of the protesters, said. “They didn’t have a vote or discuss the bill.

Wiskus lives in Lisbon on a piece of land that Navigator Energy proposed laying a 1,300-mile carbon pipeline. The proposal, if approved by the Iowa Utilities Board, would go across the state of Iowa before the carbon was deposited underground in central Illinois.

The company wants to work with 20 ethanol companies that intend to lower their carbon footprint by taking carbon dioxide and liquefying it. The company said that the pipeline would be a minimum of 5 feet deep all along its route. At its endpoint, Navigator said that it would then inject the liquefied carbon dioxide into the ground nearly a mile deeper than any source of drinking water.

The company has been asking for property owners for a voluntary easement to let the pipeline pass through their property.

“No one has signed a voluntary easement,” Wiskus said. “They would have to trigger eminent domain to be able to take the land away from us.”

Wiskus said the bill would have protected her and her neighbors from having to give up their backyards, but said this wasn’t just about the pipeline projects. It was about the future of the state.

“It was an issue of great importance that we needed to make right now about the direction we want to go as it pertains to climate change,” Wiskus said. “Those decisions will have impacts for generations.

KCRG-TV9 reached out to Navigator and did not hear back as of Thursday night. TV9 also reached out to the Iowa Utilities Board to see if Navigator had discussed potentially using eminent domain. We did not hear from them, yet, as of Thursday night.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the length of the pipeline and the depth of carbon storage below drinking water level. It also incorrectly stated the company was looking to purchase property instead of the easements the company is seeking.

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