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CO2 pipelines not worth the risk

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 It has been over a year since I received that fateful letter addressed to our family farm corporation asking for an easement for a CO2 pipeline in exchange for a large sum of money. While the funds would nicely cover some projects I really want to do, the attorney and real estate agent in me thought I’d better do a little more due diligence before signing. Some research into these pipelines told me the physical and legal ramifications are in no way worth the risk and, with every piece of information I’ve uncovered since, it only gets worse.

Let me recap the highlights.

This is a new and untested technology. The pressure needed to keep the CO2 gas in liquid form is around 2,500 psi. This means any rupture or leak is catastrophic because it releases an odorless and colorless gas in the air that renders living beings in the area unconscious. As a bonus, internal combustion engines do not run, making it impossible for EMS to drive to the rescue. The cloud that would result from a rupture is no respecter of boundaries and will find its way into schools, nursing homes, hospitals and many other sacred places, especially in low-lying areas.

If granted a permit, the pipelines will use eminent domain to force the project on unwilling landowners. This power should only be used as a last resort and to provide for the vital infrastructure needs of society such as water, sewer, electric and roadways. It is not intended for a private company to reap profits in the form of tax credits. These projects will disrupt the soil in ways that it will take many years, if ever, to recover. Damage to terraces and drain tile will cause severe water flow disturbance. Compaction of the soil and mixing of soil types will cause unneeded stress to Iowa’s greatest natural resource (its beautiful black dirt).

After looking at it from many angles, these pipelines are simply not a good deal for Iowa. For the Iowa Utilities board to grant them permits would cause long-lasting and far-reaching physical and legal damage to the landscape of Iowa.

Meghan M. Sloma

Attorney, Lakes Area real estate agent and fourth-generation Sioux County landowner

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