Concern over a proposed CO2 pipeline in southwest Minnesota and the conduct of pipeline company, Summit Carbon Solutions, spurred nearly 60 landowners and community members from Redwood and Cottonwood Counties to meet on the evening of Friday, July 15th. In Minnesota, sections of Summit’s proposed high pressure CO2 pipeline network will cut through Chippewa, Cottonwood, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Martin, Redwood, Renville, and Yellow Medicine Counties and a northern leg crosses Otter Tail and Wilkin Counties.
Across the Midwest where several CO2 pipeline projects have been proposed, pipeline companies are working to secure “voluntary” easements from landowners and access private land for surveys. Landowners in multiple states have reported that Summit’s land agents have engaged in high pressure tactics. In South Dakota, Summit recently filed suit against landowners who have refused to allow surveyors on their land.
Landowners at the meeting described conversations with Summit’s land agents where they were told they could not talk with their neighbors about offers being made. Those in attendance discovered inconsistencies between various offers and the information provided by land agents.
Anita Vogel from Lamberton helped to organize the meeting and owns land with her family along the pipeline route. She described how the company pressured her mother to sign an easement while the family was experiencing a health crisis and encouraged others to think carefully before putting pen to paper. “Signing a voluntary easement may seem like not a big deal to some,” said Vogel, “but I want to remind you that this is a ‘forever’ easement and once you sign this you can’t reverse that decision.”
Peg Furshong, Programs Director for CURE—a Montevideo-based organization that has been raising concerns about the pipeline project—was invited to the meeting. She reminded attendees that Summit must go through many stages of review and permitting before getting approval to build, including obtaining a route permit from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC). “Their strategy is to have many landowners sign voluntary easements to demonstrate local support for this project. But think twice before you hand over the rights to your land when the PUC hasn’t even approved the route.” She also advised landowners to have any contracts reviewed by an attorney with expertise in pipeline easement agreements.
As the meeting wrapped up, the consensus was that landowners want more transparency about the CO2 pipelines and risks to their property and communities. They also expressed interest in finding ways to share information and work together.
“Bottom line,” said Vogel, “the landowner is the most important part of this project and the for-profit company’s lawyer wrote this easement agreement to benefit their company and not the landowner. We landowners need to look out for one another.”
For more information about these projects go to www.carbonpipelinesmn.org.