Adair County. (photo from Adair County website)

The Adair County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing and then approved an ordinance today that would regulate hazardous liquid pipelines, targeting a proposed carbon dioxide pipeline.

Board chairman Matt Wedemeyer  says the panel can’t prevent the pipeline from coming into the county, especially if officials with Navigator CO2 Ventures, which proposes the project, decide to use the process of eminent domain. “I don’t know if you can keep it from happening but you can at least have some ground rules so that if they do come to the county,” Wedemeyer says, “we don’t just get blindsided by not even knowing that they’re doing anything until they’re here.”

Board member Jodie Hoadley says having an ordinance regulating where the pipeline is allowed to go is the best protection for the county. “We feel it’s best to get this done right now and watch what’s going on,” Hoadley says. “If we need to tweak this down the road or whatever, then we’ll do it, but they’re not having much luck getting the state stopped and implementing eminent domain.”

Craig Schoenfeld of CR3 Connect — a Clive-based lobby firm that represents Navigator, says there’s been no discussion about running a pipeline through Adair County, and if that were to be the case, they want it to be a joint effort. “The over-reaching thing that we have not been to the county, we haven’t talked to anybody and you guys are speculating and guessing,” Schoenfeld says. “We would welcome the opportunity to be collaborative and have the conversation. Folks around this table don’t know about our safety protocols.”

Schoenfeld says if the project does go forward, they are years away from any sort of development or construction. A map provided to the Des Moines Register, however, indicated the pipeline would be fully operational by 2025, and shows the route would traverse Adair County. Schoenfeld says that’s only a prospective route.

Supervisor John Twombly preferred to move forward with the regulation. “I said early on that we weren’t sure if any was going to come through Adair County but I think we need to go ahead with our ordinance,” Twombly says. “We can always amend it. We can always have another meeting, but if we don’t act on it now, then we have nothing behind it.” The board approved a motion to waive the second and third readings, and passed the resolution on the final reading.

Board Chair Matt Wedemeyer addressed the likelihood of legal proceedings. “We’re not begging for litigation by any means, either, but I feel like, if this is years down the road or whenever it comes, we’re going to need some communication prior to this ending up in court,” Wedemeyer says. In September, the Adair County Board of Supervisors sent the Iowa Utilities Board a letter, saying the board is not opposed to the purpose or construction of the pipeline, but is opposed to eminent domain being used “as a way of achieving it.”

None of the three proposed pipeline routes run through Adair County, but there are nearby ethanol plants in Menlo and Corning. If those facilities are connected to a carbon capture pipeline in the future, the route would likely pass through Adair County. Navigator’s petition, filed with the Iowa Utilities Board, calls for a $3.2 billion underground pipeline across 33 counties in Iowa to capture carbon dioxide emissions from ethanol and other industrial agriculture plants in Iowa.

(By Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic)