After a week of deliberation, the Page County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Sept. 7 to hire ISG to provide an inspector for a proposed pipeline to run through the county.
Evan De Val, a civil engineer with ISG, met with the board Aug. 31 to review the pipeline project being developed by Summit Carbon Solutions and referred to as the Midwest Carbon Express. The pipeline would cross through five states including 30 counties in Iowa.
“The project proposes to partner with a number of ethanol plants in the five states to capture carbon dioxide emissions and transport the liquefied carbon dioxide to North Dakota where they will be stored in ‘deep underground geologic storage locations,’” according to a press release issued by the Iowa Utilities Board Aug. 26.
Since the transportation of liquefied carbon dioxide is considered a hazardous liquid pipeline, Iowa law allows each county where the pipeline would be located to inspect the construction process in agricultural areas. Therefore, De Val offered the services of ISG to provide an inspector to safeguard the interests of Page County and act on behalf of the Board of Supervisors.
Supervisor Chairperson Chuck Morris said Sept. 7 one of his biggest concerns with the proposed pipeline project was whether or not eminent domain would be used to acquire the necessary land for the project.
“It’s my understanding that, no, it’s a private project. There’s not eminent domain. So, it’s total up to the land owners if this pipeline gets built or doesn’t get built,” Morris said.
Supervisor Jacob Holmes said the inspector would also be able to attend an informational meeting scheduled for 11 a.m. Oct. 14 at the Shenandoah Public Library on the pipeline project.
“They’ll be there to answer questions so we don’t have to worry about knowing everything so to speak. They’ll be our representative,” Supervisor Alan Armstrong said.
Morris also pointed out there would be no expense to Page County by contracting with ISG to provide the inspector. Summit Carbon Solutions actually pays Page County to provide an inspector and the county would then send that payment to ISG.
Earlier in the meeting Sept. 7, the Board of Supervisors also approved a tax abatement request from Clarinda Regional Health Center for property at 323 W. La Perla Dr. in Clarinda. The property is being used by the hospital to provide housing for the flight crew of Air Evac Lifeteam, which operates the air medical base and emergency helicopter service at the hospital.
Although Air Evac Lifeteam is a private, for-profit company, Morris said the county also needs to consider the benefits to all the residents of Page County of having an emergency service like this available locally.
“It’s no secret rural emergency medical services are under stress. They don’t make any money. There continues to be a movement to try to make that an essential service where it can be levied for to make sure you have these services out in the country,” Morris said.
Clarinda Regional Health Center is also very unique in the fact it is designated as a municipal hospital. However, the facility does not receive tax revenue from the city of Clarinda to subsidize the operation of the hospital.
“It’s my understanding they are one of four municipal hospitals in Iowa and they get zero tax revenue,” Morris said.
Armstrong moved to abate the current taxes and have the board review the matter each year to ensure the property is still be used by the hospital to support the EMS helicopter service. The board voted unanimously to approve the motion.
In other business, Bank Iowa Regional President Gilbert Thomas spoke to the board during public comment to clarify the issue regarding the abatement of taxes approved by the Board of Supervisors Aug. 31 for the new Clarinda City Hall and the pocket park north of that facility.
Thomas said Bank Iowa deeded its former building and the adjacent property to the city of Clarinda on Aug. 14, 2020. As part of that process Bank Iowa paid all taxes due on the properties at that time. Therefore, the abatement of taxes was for taxes incurred after the city took possession.