Unlikely allies: Pipeline battle doesn’t fall along party lines

Former U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, speaks during a town hall meeting, Saturday, Jan. 26,...
Former U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, speaks during a town hall meeting, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019, in Primghar, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)(Charlie Neibergall | AP)
Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 6:20 PM CST
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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - Earlier this year, President Joe Biden signed into law the “Inflation Reduction Act,” which increased tax credits for companies that sequester, or bury, carbon emissions.

Several companies in Iowa plan to do just that: Build pipelines that will stuff carbon underground, a measure meant to help the environment. The projects are supported by members of both parties.

They’re perhaps the unlikeliest of allies: A former conservative congressman and a Democratic challenger in a deeply red district. But when it comes to the use of eminent domain to complete carbon pipeline projects, they stand together.

“My initial reaction was surprise. You know, I’ve never spoken with Steve before that email and never reached out to him. He never reached out to me in any way,” said former Congressional Candidate Ryan Melton.

The surprise comes in because Ryan Melton, an unabashed Democrat, doesn’t see eye to eye with former Congressman Steve King, a conservative Republican, on much.

They make an odd pair, but they illustrate how the battle over carbon pipelines doesn’t come down to the traditional party lines.

“We should not be engaging in billions of dollars of expenses and trampling over people’s property rights for an unproven science and unproven proposal,” said King.

Pipeline companies argue Iowa law allows them to use eminent domain as a last resort to finish their projects. But organizations ranging from environmentalists to originalist politicians disagree.

They argue the use of eminent domain for a private company is a stain on the constitution.

“And the people at the top of this are the leaders that already have a lot of money. And they’re driving this thing from the Democrat side, the Republican side, and the major donor side,” said King.

Melton, agrees.

“And really, every single one of us is at risk of this, whether you’re a landowner or you’re not I mean, if you’re not a landowner, let’s say you rent, you know, these pipelines pose risk to you too,” said Melton.

To be clear, many politicians support the project. Former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, signed a letter urging landowners to sign easements.

Politicians at the statehouse defeated a bill that would’ve blocked carbon pipelines. And current Northwest Iowa Republican Congressman Randy Feenstra supports the project so long as there is no use of eminent domain and the companies gain “explicit consent.”

Information has been added to this story to say that Rep. Randy Feenstra would only support the pipeline so long as there is no use of eminent domain.