Sierra Club Pushing Back Against Former Gov. Branstad & Carbon Pipeline

Photo: Summit Carbon Solutions

(Des Moines, IA) -- "Shame on them," says one Iowa landowner. The Iowa chapter of the Sierra Club and Iowa landowners are responding to a proposed carbon pipeline from Summit Carbon Solutions.

The Ames-based company, Summit Carbon, is proposing a 700-mile pipeline to capture and carry carbon dioxide from ethanol-producing plants. The proposed pipeline would run through 30 Iowa counties, and connect to other pipelines in North Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri, and South Dakota. Carbon dioxide would eventually find its way to a storage facility in North Dakota.

In an interview released on Sunday, former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad told WHO 13 he supports the pipeline, and is calling on Iowans to support the project. Branstad also sent out a letter to Iowa property owners with Summit Carbon, addressing the Sierra Club.

The letter reads:

“As a landowner and potential partner of the Summit Carbon Solutions project, you are now a target of the Sierra Club. In the weeks and months to come, you will likely hear from them -- making wild claims about the pipeline and encouraging you to oppose it.

Please don’t be intimidated. They are not your friends and will be long gone after they have destroyed the ethanol industry and the value of your corn-producing land.”

A letter to WHO 13 from Jess Mazour, a Conservation Coordinator for the Iowa chapter of the Sierra Club, responds to the claims from Branstad and Summit Carbon.

A portion of the letter claims Summit Carbon is resorting to "intimidating" business practices:

"Summit Carbon is trying to keep landowners from working together, organizing, and exchanging ideas. In fact, Summit has now gone to court to keep the landowners’ names from being shared. All the while Summit has now sent a mailing to all landowners in their project path telling them that Sierra Club would be lying to them and intimidating them. This is what psychologists call projection – taking your own bad actions and attributing them to someone else.

In fact, landowners have filed numerous complaints with the Utilities Board about the deplorable behavior exhibited by Summit’s land agents, including bullying and intimidation.

Although Branstad claims that the landowners will be partners with Summit, the reality is that no royalty payments will be given to the landowners for each ton of carbon flowing through the pipeline. They will not be sharing in the profits of Summit, as one would expect, even though their land is absolutely essential for the carbon pipeline project. For that, the landowners are expected to give an easement, and will be dictated to concerning how they can use their own land in the easement. Summit needs our land and our money to make their private profits."

The letter from the Sierra Club also includes messages from landowners whose land may be affected by the pipeline.

Lori O’Brien, Plymouth County landowner: “I don’t appreciate Summit and Branstad trying to control the narrative the way they are doing. I also don’t appreciate the marketing mail I have received from Summit when they refuse to make the landowner lists public. At the present time, we have no way to organize on our own, and Summit is trying to use that to their advantage. Shame on them!”

Mike Ossian, Clinton County landowner: “The difference is the for profit company Branstad represents is saying, 'shut up, trust us, sign away your rights to your own land.' The non-profit is saying 'landowners you have a choice. And by banding together you also have a voice.' It’s about money for Branstad’s employers; it is not about the good of the farmer. The only people coming out in support of the pipeline are those that stand to profit off it. It is not green or the environmentalists wouldn’t be opposed to it and it’s not for the farmers or they wouldn’t be opposed to it. Branstad is no longer an elected official but a paid spokesman. He went from representing Iowans to representing his employer”.

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