Montgomery County Courthouse

(Red Oak) -- Montgomery County's attorney is addressing feedback regarding recent statements concerning another county's proposed carbon pipeline regulations.

During Tuesday's regular county board of supervisors meeting, County Attorney Drew Swanson clarified statements made at last week's meeting regarding Shelby County's CO2 pipeline ordinance. At that meeting, Swanson recommended the supervisors delay any decision on Montgomery County's ordinance, saying Shelby County's ordinance had been tabled.

"I'd line to clarify that the most recent hazardous pipeline ordinance being considered by Shelby County hasn't been tabled," said Swanson. "A prior version had been, and due to a miscommunication, this was confused with being the most recent version.

"However, it's also important to note that Shelby County has not yet passed their most recent ordinance. In fact, I don't believe that their public hearing has even occurred yet. I've been told that it's this Friday."

Swanson also addressed Zoning Administrator Barry Byers' recent comments, stating Montgomery County was in a "wait and see" mode regarding the pipeline ordinance. He says Byers' comments alluded to gauging the progress of Shelby County's ordinance before taking action in Montgomery County. Swanson also addressed last week's statement that Shelby County's regulations were drafted by a private entity, saying the most recent version was drafted with some assistance from the Ahlers and Cooney law firm, which regularly represents both government and private entities.

"At this time, I'm unaware of the full extent of their involvement," he said, "but I do know they have been involved to some extent. It's also my understanding that Ahlers and Cooney is quite versed in hazardous pipeline law, which, as we're all quickly learning, is a very technical and complicated, detail-oriented subject. It's also my understanding that a number of other counties affected by the proposed hazardous liquid CO2 pipeline--including Shelby County--have employed Ahlers and Cooney to assist with drafting an appropriate ordinance, and to answer applicable questions along the way."

Swanson also recommended the county employ some sort of outside counsel--such as the Iowa State Association of Counties or a firm like Ahlers and Cooney--to tailor an ordinance applicable to Montgomery County.

"While we're on the same boat as a lot of other counties regarding this pipeline," said Swanson, "no two counties are alike. We're not necessarily directly aligned with any other county's point of view, and logistics are different. Therefore, we need to make sure that the final ordinance we eventually land on is going to be viable and applicable to our specific county."

Swanson's statements Tuesday followed accusations that his office spread "misinformation" regarding Shelby County's proposed ordinance. At the outset, Swanson stated his office strives to provide accurate information upon request "to the best of our ability" even when the requests don't provide the time required to formulate a complete response. He added the county's office is--and should be--apolitical, meaning it approaches each question from a strictly legal standpoint, and doesn't incorporated personal opinions or views in any official duty.

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