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Farm bureau: Landowners should band together, seek legal representation for carbon pipeline

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Those who own land in the path of a proposed carbon dioxide pipeline are being urged to take steps to protect their property.

The Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) used a series of meetings with its members to share advice about dealing with Navigator CO2 Ventures, which plans to build the Heartland Greenway pipeline through five states, including Illinois and Iowa.

Bill Bodine, Director of Business and Regulatory Affairs for the IFB, said the most important step landowners can take is to find an experienced attorney to negotiate easements and other agreements.

“They’re very complicated. They have an impact on your farmland property. So you want to make sure you do it right and work with an attorney to do so,” Bodine said.

The farm bureau also suggested land owners band together to hire an attorney.

Laura Harmon, Associate Counsel with the IFB, said, “We’ve seen farmers go together in groups. (There is) strength in numbers and leverage.”

The farm bureau said that banding together also helps spread around the cost.

Some landowners in western Illinois have already started doing that, and hundreds of farmers in Iowa have jointly hired a law firm to lead their legal effort.

Harmon said those in Illinois who are interested in the case can review it and file comments about it on the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) website. She said the ICC will have up to 11 months to review the application and enter a decision once Navigator files for a permit, something it has not yet done.

The farm bureau anticipates Navigator will file its application sometime this year. At that point, the company can begin approaching landowners about easements.

Harmon said she is not aware of any case in which the ICC didn’t grant a permit, and she said the ICC has considered an application for a CO2 pipeline in the past.

“This would be the second application for approval of a CO2 pipeline. There was an application years ago for the FutureGen 2.0 project (in Morgan County). The ICC approved the application but that project was never built.”

The IFB said Navigator’s pipeline is one of four such pipelines currently proposed in the state.

Bodine said the farm bureau has not taken a stance on Navigator’s project.

“The project has not filed before the Illinois Commerce Commission so we don’t know all the details so I don’t want to speculate on whether or not we’ll take a position or when that may occur because we don’t know the details that the company will be filing before the commerce commission as how it may align with what Illinois law requires,” he said.

Bodine said the farm bureau has not taken specific positions on pipeline projects in the past. He said the bureau has intervened in cases before the ICC to raise some issues or concerns.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.