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Supervisors learn details of proposed pipeline
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Supervisors learn details of proposed pipeline

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HJ - Standard Page County Courthouse

An informational meeting regarding a proposed liquid carbon dioxide pipeline that would run through Page County near its border with Fremont County has been scheduled for noon on Oct. 14 at the Shenandoah Public Library.

The informational meeting was scheduled by the Iowa Utilities Board to inform local landowners of the project proposed by Summit Carbon Solutions, LLC, after the company filed a request with the utilities board Aug. 11. Summit Carbon refers to the proposed carbon capture and storage project as the Midwest Carbon Express.

The proposed pipeline would cross 30 counties in Iowa as well as involving four other states.

“The project proposes to partner with a number of ethanol plants in the five states to capture carbon dioxide emissions and transport the liquefied carbon dioxide to North Dakota where they will be stored in ‘deep underground geologic storage locations,’” according to a press release issued by the Iowa Utilities Board on Aug. 26.

Similar meetings have been set for Oct. 11 in Mills and Fremont Counties. The Fremont County meeting will be at 6 p.m. at The Waterfalls in Farragut. Another meeting will also be held for Montgomery County at 6 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Montgomery County Ag Society Gold Building in Red Oak.

During its meeting Aug. 31, the Page County Board of Supervisors learned more about the project and its role in overseeing the construction to take place in Page County.

Evan De Val, a civil engineer with ISG, met with the board to offer the company’s service in providing Page County with a pipeline inspector to monitor the word done in the county. ISG is based in Mankato, Minnesota, and De Val works out the Des Moines office of the company.

“Under the state of Iowa law, liquefied carbon dioxide is considered a hazardous liquid pipeline, which puts responsibilities on this board to provide county inspection for the construction of that through ag areas,” De Val said.

Since most counties do not have the personnel or expertise to perform those inspections, De Val said Iowa Code allows counties to hire a third-party inspector to act on its their behalf.

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“That’s what I’m here to offer our services for,” De Val said.

ISG has provided similar services to counties during the construction of other pipelines running through the state, including the Dakota Access Pipeline. The crude oil pipeline runs through 18 Iowa counties and ISG provided 13 of those counties with an inspector.

“So we have good experience with this. The way we approach these is we hire experienced pipeline inspectors to work this project and only this project. They’re not going to be called off to do any other work for ISG. Their focus is going to be 100% on this project for the counties that hire us to do that work,” De Val said.

In terms of expenses to the county, Del Val said the pipeline company pays for the inspector and that cost passes through the county to ISG. “Once you get paid by the pipeline, you would then pay us. So there’s no financial expectation on this county at any point in the project,” he said.

Although construction of the pipeline is not expected to start for 18 to 24 months, De Val told the board it may be wise for Page County to hire an inspector prior to the informational meeting in Shenandoah.

“I personally think there’s value in having a county inspector at that Oct. 14 meeting,” De Val said. “The sooner you are to hire an inspector, the sooner they can start coordinating with your landowners, communicating with this board and conveying information over to the pipeline to give a more thorough understanding of what they’re going to come in contact with.”

Supervisor Chairman Chuck Morris said his father served on a crude oil pipeline running between Wyoming and Illinois. So, speaking from experience, Morris said pipelines have proven to be a safe way to transport materials.

“I don’t know when it was put in. Probably in the ‘30s. I don’t think there’s ever been a rupture of a pipe,” Morris said of the pipeline his father worked on.

“It’s in their vested interest to keep the product in the pipe. As you can imagine, landowners don’t want pipes going through their property, so there’s some concern from a landowner’s perspective. The state of Iowa has done nice thing by putting this in the code. It’s the only state I’m aware of that has an independent county inspection for farmland. We’re ag economy, obviously, so having there be oversight for the landowners’ land is good,” De Val said.

Since ISG and the inspector would be hired by Page County, De Val said there is an added level of autonomy to the process. The inspector only answers to the county and cannot be fired by the pipeline company.

In order to hire ISG to provide an inspector for the project, De Val said the company would need a letter of intent from the board. No action was taken Aug. 31, but during its meeting Sept. 7, the Board of Supervisors did approve the letter of intent to hire ISG to provide an inspector.

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