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Kossuth County faces lawsuit over carbon pipeline zoning

A company that plans to build a carbon capture pipeline across five states has sued Kossuth County in Iowa for its zoning ordinance that limits the location of the pipeline. This is the fourth county in Iowa that the company has taken to court over similar regulations.

What is the carbon pipeline project?

The company behind the lawsuit is Summit Carbon Solutions, a subsidiary of Summit Agricultural Group. The company aims to construct a 1,865-mile pipeline system that would transport carbon dioxide from ethanol plants and other industrial facilities in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota to a geological storage site in North Dakota. The company claims that the project would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 12 million tons per year, equivalent to taking 2.6 million cars off the road.

Why is the company suing the county?

The company filed a federal lawsuit against Kossuth County on December 30, 2023, alleging that the county’s zoning ordinance violates the federal Pipeline Safety Act and the U.S. Constitution. The ordinance, which was adopted on December 14, 2023, requires a special permit for any pipeline that carries hazardous substances, such as carbon dioxide, and imposes a setback of 1,320 feet from any residence, school, church, cemetery, well or water source. The company argues that the ordinance is preempted by the federal law that regulates pipeline safety and that it interferes with interstate commerce.

How has the county responded?

The county has not yet filed a formal response to the lawsuit, but the county attorney, Todd Holmes, said that the county is confident that the ordinance is lawful and that it protects the health, safety and welfare of the residents. Holmes said that the county is not opposed to the carbon pipeline project, but that it wants to have some local control over where the pipeline can be located. He also said that the county is willing to work with the company to find a mutually agreeable solution.

 

What are the implications of the lawsuit?

The lawsuit is the latest in a series of legal challenges that the company has faced over its carbon pipeline project. The company has also sued Shelby, Calhoun and Palo Alto counties in Iowa for their zoning ordinances that restrict the siting of the pipeline. The company has also faced opposition from landowners, environmental groups and Native American tribes who have raised concerns about the potential impacts of the pipeline on the land, water and cultural resources. The company hopes to start construction of the pipeline in 2024 and complete it by 2026, but the outcome of the lawsuits could affect the timeline and the feasibility of the project.

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