Montgomery County Courthouse

(Red Oak) -- As landowner meetings in the area begin, Montgomery County held off on signing a letter of intent for inspection services on a proposed carbon dioxide pipeline.

Meeting in regular session Tuesday morning, the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors tabled the signing of a letter of intent for agricultural inspection services with ISG, Incorporated. The services would inspect the replacement of land dug up for the installation of Summit Carbon Solutions' Carbon Express carrying carbon dioxide from partner ethanol plants in five midwestern states to an underground storage facility in North Dakota. Supervisor Mark Peterson says he has hesitations for signing the letter of intent after discussion with a landowner.

"Since it's not even a for sure thing yet, in his mind, and I would have to agree, us even approving this right now, sort of makes it look like we're approving the pipeline, and I guess I'm not ready to do that," Peterson said.

In the current proposed plans, the pipeline would run along the western border of Montgomery County to Green Plains in Fremont County.

Supervisor Randy Cooper says he feels there is still plenty of time to make an official decision.

"It is a long ways down the road, it's going to be 2023 or later before they even dig," Peterson said. "So we do have some time do research it or do what we want."

Cooper also spoke with Pottawattamie and Mills Counties, who he says have not signed a letter of intent with any sort of inspection company.

Supervisor Mike Olson, while he agrees the board should take more time, also stressed the importance of this sort of pipeline to be constructed.

"If this pipeline does not go through, and if we do not start controlling the CO2 emissions coming from these ethanol plants, they're going to go away," Olson said. "Which will be crippling if not devastating to the farm economy."

Olson says he worries being against the pipeline could also give the impression they are against ethanol plants. Cooper noted over 50% of Iowa farmers corn product goes to ethanol plants every year, and nearly 40% nationwide.

Supervisor Charla Schmid agreed with Olson, and also speculated what other companies they could even find in the area.

"We're going to look for other companies, okay, so we live in southwest Iowa, what other companies are there that are going to come and do this for us," Schmid said. "This company (ISG) to me, actually stepped up, I understand (Jan Norris)'s comment that she feels they're a little too close, but sometimes I just feel like if we don't trust and we wait to long, then we're going to get burned."

The board ultimately tabled the discussion to a later date, and did not specify when the discussion would return. An informational meeting for Montgomery County landowners is being held by Summit Carbon Solutions, Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds' Gold Building.

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