(KCAU) — Navigator Heartland Greenway, LLC, is suing four Iowa landowners to gain access to their land to survey it as part of their proposed carbon dioxide pipeline. The four landowners are in in Woodbury, Clay, and Butler counties.
Navigator is asking for the court to stop the property owners from interfering or threatening to interfere with the company from conducting surveys as part of the pipeline projects. Iowa Capitol Dispatch first reported the story.
Petitions against landowners
The lawsuits are petitions for injunctive relief regarding Iowa Code 479B.15 and Iowa Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 1.1501 and were filed on August 18 and 25. In the court filings, Navigator stated it held public informational meetings and then sent certified mail to the properties alerting owners of the company’s intent to enter the property. The company said it needed to enter the land to conduct surveys to “determine the direction and depth of a carbon dioxide pipeline.” It adds that Iowa Code 479B.15 provides the right to enter private land to examine and survey it.
The petitions were filed against William and Vicki Hulse in Woodbury County, and Martin Koenig in Clay County. Dennis Hart in Butler County, R.V. Hassman L.P. in Butler County,
The court filings showed that the certified mail was sent on February 3 and received by three of the landowners. The certified mail was refused for the Woodbury County property. Navigator said it tried to make arrangements to survey the property but was refused multiple times. When a Navigator land agent visited the property on June 29, Victoria Hulse handed the agent a letter from their attorney and refused them onto their property.
In Clay County, the landowner also refused Navigator to survey the land. Navigator claims that on March 17, Koenig and his spouse told the company’s representatives to leave, claimed they were trespassing, and called the sheriff. The representatives left after explaining the situation to the sheriff. The company’s representative then visited the property about a month later and was confronted by the landowner’s wife, claiming she threatened him, saying, “Get off my land before I let the dog go.” Another Navigator representative was with a crew surveying a tract of land neighboring the Koenig land in early June, when Koening allegedly confronted the survey crew, using several expletives and telling them to leave.
Butler County landowner Hart allegedly refused to let another Navigator land agent onto the property multiple times. They told a land agent on June 8 that “there was no way a f**king pipeline was coming through his property,” the court filing claimed.
At the second Butler County property, Navigator claimed in another petition that Hassman’s tenant nearly ran over a land agent in April when they tried to access the property. The tenant then refused the land agent access and said the only way a survey could be conducted was through a court order. The land agent went to the home of Hassman’s representative to ask for permission to survey the land in July when she refused and allegedly told the land agent to not try to contact her again on the issue.
Koening and William and Victoria Hulse filed counterclaims against Navigator on September 7, claiming that Iowa Code 479B.15 violates the Iowa Constitution, specifically Article I, 18. The counterclaim asks to hold any action using that code until a final decision on its constitutionality is rendered. The counterclaims said the specific state code failed to compensate landowners for the surveying of the private landowners’ land.
The landowners are also claiming a temporary relief against Navigator may be allowed, claiming Navigator has “threatened to and intends to enter upon Counterclaim Plaintiff’s Property to conduct a survey of unknown type and duration and unknown examination upon the Property against Landowner’s will, thus violating their constitutional rights.
Navigator is one of two proposed carbon dioxide pipelines to run through Iowa. The pipelines would capture carbon emissions from manufacturing plants, compress it into a liquid, and tranport it through a pipeline before then storing it below ground. Navigator CO2 Ventures LLC’s Heartland Greenway project would span about 1,300 miles across five states in the Midwest and transport about 15 million metric tons of CO2 per year, according to Navigator.
One of the world’s largest biofuels companies POET said it would use the Heartland Greenway system for captured CO2. Eighteen of POET’s 33 plants would provide five million metric tons of CO2 to the system.
KCAU 9 has reached out to Navigator and the landowners’ lawyer, but has not heard back at the time of publishing