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Coalition forming to fight proposed CO2 pipeline in Iowa

May 06, 2022

Energy News Network:

We’re a long way from another Standing Rock. In Iowa, though, a coalition similar to the one that took a stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016 is emerging to fight a proposed interstate carbon dioxide pipeline network, and opponents say they’re more organized and energized at this stage thanks to lessons learned last decade.

“People forget the fight against DAPL” — the Dakota Access Pipeline — “started in Iowa,” said Sikowis Nobiss, founder and executive director of Great Plains Action Society, a regional collective of Indigenous organizers formed in part to help galvanize resistance to Dakota Access among tribal governments. “Here we are again starting a fight against a pipeline in Iowa.”

The collective’s latest target is a project by Summit Carbon Solutions that would carry carbon dioxide captured at more than 30 Midwest ethanol plants to underground storage sites in North Dakota. The proposed route would not cross tribal land, but the same was true of the early Dakota Access route before it was rerouted through the Standing Rock Reservation.

Nobiss, a citizen of the George Gordon First Nation, sees parallels with the Dakota Access movement, specifically in the unlikely alliances forming among environmental and Indigenous activists and White landowners who see pipeline construction as a threat to their farmland. Concerns about eminent domain have drawn local governments and groups such as the Farm Bureau into the fray, too.

The biggest difference from Dakota Access is the level of organization this early in the process. By the time Great Plains Action Society mobilized against DAPL, many tribal governments along the route had already heard presentations and promises from the pipeline’s developer. Today, their outreach efforts are often outpacing the company’s, she said, giving them a chance to reach local leaders before they have already formed positions.

The Iowa Sierra Club was similarly quick to organize after Summit’s project was announced last year, putting much of its effort so far into educating and organizing property owners in the project’s path. Its lead organizer has been in contact with more than 1,000 landowners, and more than 100 have signed with an Omaha law firm to represent them as a group.

The developer is pitching the project as a way to address climate change, but the Sierra Club and other environmental critics say it’s a risky and unnecessary distraction from more proven solutions such as investments in renewable energy, electrification, and energy efficiency.

“We think that, number one, it destroys farmland,” Taylor said. “Number two, there is a very real prospect of injury and damage both to humans and the environment if there is a rupture, and we don’t believe it’s a solution to the climate crisis. … It’s strictly for the benefit of the ethanol industry and the promoter.”

[Dan Haugen]

More: Iowa carbon pipeline opponents see lessons from Dakota Access fight

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