Crossing a line? Summit Carbon Solutions files lawsuit against Shelby County
COUNTY — Summit Carbon Solutions filed a law suit against Shelby and Story counties late last week.
The law suit, Couser v. Shelby County, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa. It states the ordinance adopted by the Shelby County Board of Supervisors earlier this month attempts to preempt state and federal oversight.
The company is asking the court to throw out the new rules.
Summit Carbon Solutions has proposed a $4.5 billion carbon capture pipeline that will stretch across five states in the Midwest, including 25 miles in Shelby County.
The proposed route will encroach the city limits of Earling.
The Shelby County ordinance regulates the distance between a hazardous liquid pipeline route, requiring no less than 1,000 feet from homes and half mile distance from churches, schools and other public places. It would also force all pipeline companies to obtain county permits for construction.
It was passed after four well-attended public hearings, including one with the Shelby County Planning and Zoning Commission and three with the Board of Supervisors.
“What frustrates me is we did everything to the letter of the law,” said Steve Kenkel, Chairman of the Shelby County Board of Supervisors.
“It doesn’t surprise me when you look at what’s going on,” he continued.
“They are filing suits against anyone trying to protect their own interests.”
Kenkel stated the public hearings gave both Summit Carbon Solutions and the public “ample time” to voice their opinions regarding the ordinance.
“We listened to the public and adjusted the ordinance accordingly.”
A representative from the pipeline company had attended three out of the four pubic hearings, but did not address the Shelby County Board of Supervisors.
“There has been no written comment or objection to the new ordinance from them.”
“We are here to protect our economic growth and development. We are here to protect the citizens of Shelby County, our emergency response teams and our volunteers,” Kenkel said.
Attorney Tim Whipple, who assisted the Supervisors in drafting the ordinance, said the county will be able to tell their story in court.
Whipple hopes the federal court’s decision “will provide clarity” on the issue.
He noted that the purpose of the Shelby County ordinance was not to stop the pipeline, however, “They need to give consideration to what the Supervisors think is reasonable.”
He also stated that Summit Carbon Solutions had not applied for any permits with Shelby County since the ordinance passed.
“A private company should not benefit without taking into account the needs of the local communities,” Whipple said.
Jesse Harris from Summit Carbon Solutions said, “While Summit Carbon Solutions is not able to comment on the specifics of the complaint, it is important to note that the 3.3 million miles of pipelines in active service across the United States, including the 47,000 miles in Iowa, are extensively regulated at both the federal and state levels, and those regulations preempt ordinances at the county level. Having a consistent process to oversee and regulate major infrastructure projects is important to ensure our economy continues to operate.
“Summit Carbon Solutions remains encouraged by how landowners across the Midwest have embraced our proposed carbon capture, transportation, and storage project. To date, the company has partnered with 950 Iowa landowners to sign 1,650 easement agreements or 58% of the proposed pipeline route in the state. These partnerships will help open new economic opportunities for ethanol producers, strengthen the agricultural marketplace for farmers, and generate tens of millions of dollars in new revenues for local communities in Iowa and beyond,” Harris said.