Rep. Bobby Kaufman (photo from Iowa Legislature.)

A key House member says now is the time to pass a moratorium to prevent developers from seeking government condemnation of land along proposed carbon pipeline routes before February 1, 2023.

Republican Senator Dennis Guth of Klemme recently said the plan does absolutely nothing because the Iowa Utilities Board process for eminent domain wouldn’t start before next February anyway. Republican Representative Bobby Kaufmann of Wilton disagrees.

“You can say that the eminent domain legislation didn’t go far enough. You can say that eminent domain legislation is not needed,” Kaufmann said, “but to state that the language that the House passed is useless is ignorant.”

Guth has indicated he’s been assured by the chair of the Iowa Utilities Board that the rules for seeking eminent domain would stretch the process out well into next year. Kaufmann said the point of the House proposal is to address the fears of property owners who do not want the pipelines to pass through their land or feel pressured to sign leases with the developers.

“Landowners who don’t believe what Senator Guth says about the IUB timeline. They don’t believe what I say about the IUB timeline. They don’t believe what the pipeline companies say about the IUB timeline,” Kaufmann said. “They believe that once we leave, the playing field changes, so putting a moratorium on eminent domain until we’re back is a very impactful thing.”

Kaufmann said the moratorium — which would be in effect while the legislature is not in session — is designed to send a message to the pipeline developers, too.

“To pass pipeline legislation regarding eminent domain is a message to the pipeline companies that we have an expectation as a legislature for you to negotiate fairly,” Kaufmann said. “…Heads up, we’re willing to act. You can say, again, that you’d like it go further and you can say we don’t need it at all, but it is not useless, but it definitely does things.”

Senator Guth said he’s working with Senate leaders and others to develop a long term fix to present in the 2023 legislative session, to limit the “broad” use of eminent domain for private sector projects. The Senate has not yet taken a vote on the bill that includes the temporary moratorium on the subject that House members have approved.

(A.J. Taylor, KIOW, Forest City contributed to this story.)