Letters: Summit isn't listening, doesn't care, and isn't here for us
October 27, 2022
To the editor:
In a barrage of 3-page ads found in newspapers across the state, Summit Carbon Solutions tells Iowans it cares, it’s listening and it’s here for us. Designed to tug at our heartstrings with reassuring verbiage and photos of downhome farm folk dressed in obligatory plaid shirts, the ads target thousands of landowners, such as myself, who refuse to sign voluntary easements with the hazardous CO2 pipeline company. After more than a year of land agent visits, emails, phone calls, letters, meetings, luncheons, PR mailings and other tactics, the company has merely acquired half of the signatures needed for the project. Landowners aren’t buying what Summit is selling.
Summit isn’t listening. It’s trying to buy something that isn’t for sale – unrestricted access to private property for a profit-making scheme. Land agents continue to badger us and will not take “no” for an answer. Why would we sign a legal document giving profiteers a “free and unobstructed permanent, non-exclusive pipeline easement … in, over, through, across, under, and along Landowner’s Property?”
While claiming “We Listen,” Summit disingenuously points to the 170,000 miles of pipelines in the five-state region already “in operation supplying communities with necessities like water, electricity and sewer.” Yes, this is true. However, the ad fails to mention these are all public utilities while Summit’s product – hazardous liquid CO2 – is industrial waste. It will be picked up at private entities (ethanol plants), carried via privately-owned pipelines, buried and stored out-of-state, and earn billions of dollars in carbon credits for the company’s private investors. How can this be considered a public utility?
Quite frankly, Summit doesn’t care. Even though its ad proclaims, “We Care,” Summit’s actions speak louder than its empty words. If the company truly cared, it wouldn’t be gambling with public safety by running toxic waste – an asphyxiant and caustic agent – in underground pipes throughout the state. Recently, I asked our land agent, “Why would we want hazardous waste running through our farm?” He replied that it wouldn’t be running through the farm, it would be running under it, thereby admitting that it is, in fact, hazardous waste.
Even though the current 170,000 miles of underground utility pipelines are heavily regulated, there are no state or federal regulations for hazardous CO2 pipelines. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), has only begun to write CO2 pipeline regulations. This will take time. If Summit truly cared, it would wait in order to provide the safest possible outcome. It wouldn’t be pushing the IUB for an earlier intervention date, harassing landowners to sign sooner rather than later, or planning set-backs as short as 500 feet when research shows a plume cloud can travel miles, depending on weather.
If Summit truly cared, it would be concerned about the broader impact of the pipeline – massive increases in demand for electricity and water resulting in higher costs for consumers; damage to roads and bridges from heavy equipment; destruction of farmland, tiles and terraces that will take years to rebuild – if it’s even possible. Stories abound of damaged land from previous pipelines. For example, a natural gas pipeline runs through our farm in Crawford County. It was trenched in more than forty years ago, but we can still trace its path by following the rocks and sparce crops.
Summit’s ad assures us, “We’re Here for You,” followed by boasts of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue that will be filling county coffers. Summit needs to provide proof. Iowa State University economist, Dave Swenson, and Iowa economics professor, Dr. Silvia Secchi, question the figures, saying they are unrealistic and misrepresent the benefits while ignoring the costs. Summit’s accounting firm, Ernst and Young, has been previously charged with ethics violations and fined $100 million by the SEC. Even so, Ernst and Young added a disclosure on their statement saying the “figures were provided by Summit and should not be used as facts for investment or regulations.” Secchi also said the figures on Summits promotional material “are meaningless.”
In spite of Summit Carbon Solutions’ claims to the contrary, the company isn’t listening to landowners. The company doesn’t care about the long-term impact of a hazardous CO2 pipeline on the state, and it’s only here to serve its own profit-driven self-interests. We landowners won’t be signing the easements, but we will be reaching for our plaid flannel shirts as the weather gets colder.
Milford resident and Crawford County landowner