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A bill requiring the Carbon Capture Pipeline companies to obtain 90 percent voluntary easements prior to the use of eminent domain passed through an Iowa House subcommittee hearing on Tuesday.

Opponents of the bill talked about the benefit of carbon capture for Iowa’s ethanol industry while supporters of the bill advocated for their private property rights.

Republican Rep. Bobby Kaufmann said he too would like to see a 100 percent threshold, but with the Kelo decision, the legislature’s hands are tied.

“The reality is that the Kelo versus New London decision, 5-4, in 2005, did rule that private gain does not violate the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment,” he said. “So, whether we like it or not, the Supreme Court has ruled that private entities do have a right to eminent domain. So if we were to do 100 percent and that were to become law, we would get sued. And while I would love to see the Kilo decision overturned because I think it was a horrible decision, that’s a game of chicken I’m not willing to do with an issue that’s this important.”

Kaufmann said he doesn’t know one landowner in his district who has been in support of using eminent domain for the CO2 pipeline projects.

Republican Rep. Steve Holt made clear he has supported ethanol in every vote he has taken in his eight years in the Iowa House.

“There are bigger principles here,” he said. “Eminent domain. Now, as I have said to the folks that I met with from renewable fuels, I have no problem with the pipeline, I have a problem with you taking other people’s property to do it.”

Holt said there is a difference between public use and public benefit; in his mind, the Kelo decision confused the two.

He added he realizes he is not normally in step with the Sierra Club and he may not know all the issues they oppose the pipeline, but this issue isn’t about the Sierra Club for him.

“My issue is simply what about the landowners,” he asked. “What about the century farmers who have been there for 100 years plus? What about those folks who don’t want this pipeline under their property? I have no problem with the pipeline, I do have a problem with the blunt force of government being used to seize other people’s property.”

The principle of private property rights is one of the most fundamental rights Americans have, Holt argued. He said he has never tried to engage in situational ethics where if a principle gets in the way, it gets discarded.

“That’s BS,” he said. “Private property rights have to mean something.”

Some carbon pipeline companies get their projects done without using eminent domain. He said that is the issue.

“The bottom line for me is simply this,” he said. “Build your pipeline without using eminent domain and taking other people’s property to build it.”

The bill advances to the full Judiciary Committee and Holt said he hopes to see it advance all the way to the desk of Gov. Kim Reynolds.



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