Summit’s lack of transparency and preparation raises red flags about pipeline project

IUB should not move forward with pipeline project

Last week in a filing with the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) filing by the Office of Consumer Advocate (OCA) demonstrates Summit’s continued lack of transparency, and failure to submit all requisite documents in their quest for IUB permits for their hazardous liquid CO2 pipeline. That lack of transparency and preparation raise major questions from impacted landowners, environmentalists, engineers, health experts and community leaders.

OCA is the public’s watchdog in hearings before the IUB (which grants permits for hazardous liquid pipelines) and “represents consumers in rulemakings, complaints, intercarrier disputes, and policy investigations with the goal of protecting consumers.”

In its filing, OCA commented on the hot-button political issue surrounding the use of eminent domain for the hazardous pipelines. OCA wrote, “OCA attempted to obtain information from Summit about Summit’s policies and procedures for negotiating easements and was dismayed to receive Summit’s response that it views easement negotiations as irrelevant to its permit for a hazardous liquid pipeline permit.”

“Summit cannot say negotiations are irrelevant while they keep inflating how many easements they have. Summit has hosted two sets of landowner meetings to pressure landowners to sign easements. Summit has continued to act in bad faith by misleading landowners and omitting important information,” said Jess Mazour, Conservation Program Coordinator for the Sierra Club Iowa Chapter. “What are they hiding? If this was such a good idea and really benefited Iowa, Summit wouldn’t have to hide information from the public.”

Time and time again Summit has failed to provide substantive information about the details of their plan. Even when the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) requested additional information from Summit, their responses were short and lackluster, leaving more questions than answers. As a result, in their IUB filing last week, the OCA questioned whether the IUB should be expending resources on the project. OCA states “Proceedings for hazardous liquid pipeline permit petitions are complex and require substantial investment of the Board’s time and resources, as well as that of other parties. Summit’s admission that it is unable to provide information that the Board requested demonstrates that Summit has not done the amount of planning necessary for the Board to expend resources on a contested proceeding.”

“From the get go, Summit’s hazardous carbon pipeline is reliant on public resources. It’s our taxpayer dollars that will line developers’ pockets, and it’s our local governments and local emergency response services that will have to pay out the nose should anything go wrong. The least Summit could do is answer the public’s questions,” said Food & Water Watch Senior Iowa Organizer Emma Schmit. “The fact that they can’t give straight answers about their project to the IUB and to the face of the very landowners whose land they want to seize is a warning sign. Summit’s actions are shady and their project is unwanted — the IUB must deny them their desired permits.”

Carolyn Raffensperger of the Science and Environmental Health Network said “OCA rightly noted that Summit’s shoddy permit application is a waste of our public resources. If they can’t provide the detailed, timely information necessary to evaluate these dangerous CO2 pipelines, Summit should be sent packing.”

OCA also indicated that the project information Summit has filed in South Dakota differs from what is being filed in Iowa.  

Mahmud Fitil from the Great Plains Action Society stated, “Summit Carbon Solutions has stated numerous times in public and on their website that they are committed to Tribal Outreach. During a recent meeting Summit representatives could not locate the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska’s Reservation on their own map. This is troubling because their proposed hazardous waste pipeline, crossing stolen land, is slated to enter Nebraska from Iowa just North of the reservation.”

Environmentalists, engineers, health experts and community leaders agree with the OCA that public resources must not be spent on Summit’s IUB filing until the company has invested more time and resources in answering critical questions.

The Carbon Pipeline Resistance Coalition consists of Sierra Club Iowa Chapter, Food and Water Watch, Iowa CCI, Great Plains Action Society, and Science and Environmental Health Network.

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