Norris shares carbon pipeline update with supervisors

The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors received another update on the proposed Summit Carbon pipeline and action taking place at the Iowa Utilities Board.
County resident Jan Norris advised the supervisors that originally, there were three pipelines proposed in Iowa: Summit, Navigator, and Wolf. In October, Navigator officially canceled its project. The company has not made any statements on what they will do next, but are lobbying at the federal level. Their business model is very different from Summit’s. What’s next is only speculation.
In Illinois, Wolf’s project is still moving through the review process, but the Commerce Commission staff has recommended it be denied. One Earth Energy is proposing a new CO² pipeline crossing two counties. As for Summit, Norris said the company’s initial application in North Dakota was denied.
“A recent article says they are submitting new details. Oliver County denied Summit’s injection well permit. And a foreign advisory law investigation was requested. Now the North Dakota Farm Bureau wants to participate in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of governing the use of underground pore space,” said Norris. “In South Dakota, the South Dakota PUC upheld county ordinances and Summit’s initial application has been denied. They intend to reapply and have moved staff to Aberdeen to try and mend fences.”
Norris also stated Summit CEO Bruce Rastetter announced that the launch of its planned CO² pipeline project will be delayed two years. Initially planning to have the project operational in 2024, it has faced a number of setbacks, causing a delay.
In Iowa, the IUB evidentiary hearing reconvened last week after a month-long break. Seven weeks of testimony has been given, most of which has been landowner witnesses.
“Never have I seen so many grown men moved to tears. The schedule allowed for more landowners last week and this week is Summit’s rebuttal. Before the change in IUB chair, the hearing was to include a public comment period,” said Norris. “Multiple local landowners participated in the IUB hearing, some as witnesses and others with Pre File Testimony. Video replays can be seen on Bold Nebraska’s youtube channel, and transcripts are available on the IUB Summit docket.”
Norris said a motion has been filed asking for a public comment period to accommodate non-landowner participation. Volumes of documentation have been generated by the hearing to date: 6,600 pages of transcripts, 650 hearing exhibits, thousands of pages of pre file testimony. The Summit docket is available at Iowa Hearing Testimony Recordings are online at
Normally at the end of an evidentiary hearing, the IUB allows four to six weeks for parties to file a final brief, then they are given two weeks to file reply briefs.
“The IUB will need time to review all the evidence and testimony before issuing an order. They could deny the permit, or approve it with the use of eminent domain, or approve with conditions. If approved with eminent domain, Summit will still have to go through every county’s condemnation process. They will also have to obtain other permits such as road crossings, conditional use permits, and water crossing permits. Whatever the outcome, it is likely to be tied up in court,” advised Norris.
Norris said recently, they have learned about the amount of water the CO² capture process will require. Investigation has revealed 13 individual LLCs have been filed with the Sec of State.
“Two have filed for DNR water well permits, one for 55 million gallons per year and the other for about 27 million. The first has been approved with what appears to be no real investigation on the DNR’s part. A suit has been filed to challenge it. Shenandoah is already under water restrictions due to drought,” Norris explained.
Norris felt the next legislative session is likely to see more activity with pipeline-associated legislation.
“More legislators have been paying attention or filed to be a party in the hearing. We could see pressure to pass property right protections and clarify jurisdictional control,” stated Norris.
According to Norris, Shelby County has been out front in protecting its citizens’ interests, and she said Shelby County Supervisor Steve Kenkel put together a list of things he’s learned to share with counties.
Norris also shared with the supervisors that Summit must file for permits for road crossings in every county.
“Some savvy counties have examined and updated their policies to ensure better oversight, and reconsidered fee structures to recoup for county expenses. Some counties even told Summit to come back after they had a permit from the IUB,” Norris said. “Local staff time is valuable and the company asking for a permit should bear the costs, not the county. I am disappointed to learn the Montgomery County engineer’s office has already approved dozens of Summit’s applications.”
Norris also shared that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, (PHMSA) the federal regulatory agency recognized after the Satartia, Miss. accident that pipeline rules specific to CO² are necessary.
“They are drafting new regulatory standards and anticipate the first draft will be out next year. In September, PHMSA issued a letter of clarification saying ‘local governments have broad powers to regulate land use, including setback distances.’” Norris commented.
Norris reiterated her and other landowners concerns about the safety of carbon pipelines.
“Carbon pipelines are dangerous. The CO² rupture in Mississippi proved CO² is heavier than air and is an asphyxiant. People up to a mile away were injured, some permanently. Summit told Kossuth County that local first responders will only be responsible for blocking off roads and determining the wind direction until Summit can get there and establish a hot zone,” Norris stated. “Summit claims it won’t hurt you unless the CO² concentration is 50,000 parts per million. But OSHA won’t let workers be exposed to 30,000 parts per million for more than 10 minutes. The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists recommends an 8 hour TWA Threshold Limit Value of 5,000 parts per million and a ceiling exposure limit, not to be exceeded, of 30,000 parts per million for a 10-minute period. A value of 40,000 is considered immediately dangerous to life and health.”
Norris also described some of the recent findings of plume modeling, saying Summit has continued to refuse to share plume modeling.
“In IUB hearing exhibit #641 an engineering professor in St. Paul, Minn., presents information on 8” pipelines, which is what Montgomery county will have.  Page 25 of his report, it states; ‘What we learned from the Navigator PUC (Public Utilities Commission) hearing is that Navigator’s non-worst case scenario risk modeling for an 8” pipeline showed a hazard distance of 1,855 feet at 40,000 parts per million concentration of CO²,” Norris advised. “Navigator’s plume dispersion model supports this claim. The HGS Hazard Levels identify a scale of 1-4. 40,000 parts per million is a Level 2 hazard that poses an immediate threat to life, could cause irreversible or delayed adverse health effects, or interfere with the ability to escape. All of the Montgomery County route is a Level 2, except for those who live within 400 feet, like Lori Johnson’s family. They are a Level 4 which gives them a ‘significant likelihood of death’ in only 10 minutes. How many of my neighbors will be in this Level 2 plume and have to wait for Summit employees to come to the rescue predictably from more than an hour away? How many could lose their lives within 10 minutes of a rupture? A map was provided in hearing testimony that shows at least four structures in a Level 4 zone in Montgomery County. By not implementing an ordinance to create a buffer zone, these families don’t stand a chance. “
Norris urged the supervisors to go ahead and pass the ordinance that was drafted for the county.
“Our zoning commission worked with Tim Whipple to pass a hazardous liquid pipeline ordinance draft late last year. This board held its first hearing early this year, then stalled progress in fear of being sued by Summit, and I understood. But as time goes on, more information becomes available. So what has changed since February? PHMSA issued a letter clarifying that the county can establish setbacks. Navigator’s plume modeling in Illinois is now available. The hearing has produced evidence to better help identify the threat. The IUB hearing is almost over, and the Shelby County court date is just two months away. I urge you to continue the process to adopt a local ordinance and establish setbacks for the citizens of Montgomery County. The clock is ticking. If the IUB grants Summit a permit and we do not have an ordinance in place, anything we pass will not be enforceable to their project, only the next one,” Norris commented. “So let’s please get an ordinance in place, then see what comes. It can always be amended or even rescinded, if necessary. But no option is available if we miss the window. If I understand things correctly, we would need to hold two more hearings and a vote can be held at the third reading. We would need to allow time to publish notice. I ask you to strive to have this accomplished before year’s end as Summit would like a permit issued in 2023. Calculating the IUB calendar makes that unlikely, but not impossible. You have seven meetings left this year, six if you take out Christmas, and another week needed for publishing so we have five weeks to work with. Of course, it makes sense to confirm all of this with your outside counsel, Tim Whipple. Please engage his expertise.”
The supervisors took no further action at the meeting.

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