Brief 

Farmers in the Midwest are gearing up for a fight over whether pipelines can cut through their land. Many look to the experience other farmers had with the Dakota Access Pipeline a few years ago.

 

Insight

Keith Puntenney is still feeling the impacts from the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline through a corner of his central Iowa farmland.Three acres of the land isn’t worth planting, Puntenney said, five years after part of the 1,200-mile pipeline was put under his land to carry crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois. He says the soil is compacted and doesn’t get the same yields.

“They promised that they would remediate the soil,” he said. “They never did.”Now another pipeline, this one carrying carbon dioxide, could be adjacent to another section of Puntenney’s farm.“Déjà vu,” he said. “This is just … the same thing, different day.”

Iowa company Summit Carbon Solutions is proposing the pipeline that would run near Puntenney’s land. It would capture carbon dioxide emissions from ethanol plants in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota and North Dakota and pipe them underground to be stored in underground rock formations in North Dakota.

Two other companies are also proposing pipelines elsewhere in Iowa that would travel into several Midwestern states. While the projects are aimed at making the ethanol industry greener and more sustainable, farmers’ issues with the Dakota Access Pipeline are setting the stage for another fight over land.

“The issues that I experienced and still experience five years later are not ending,” Puntenney said. “They’re just going to happen to somebody else.”

A spokesperson for Energy Transfer, which owns the Dakota Access Pipeline, wrote in an email that the company is mostly done remediating Iowa land impacted by the project and working with a few farmers to fix things. The spokesperson said the company also paid farmers in advance for three to five years worth of crop loss.

 

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