SIOUX CITY — A lawyer for a company seeking to build a liquid carbon dioxide pipeline through Iowa asked a judge in Woodbury County to put an end to landowners' delay tactics and order them to allow surveyors to enter their property.
"This is just a game of delays. It's time for the game to be over," Brian Rickert, attorney for Navigator Heartland Greenway, told District Judge Roger Sailer. "It's time for you to step in and stop the tactics."
Navigator sued Moville, Iowa, landowners William and Vicki Hulse in August after the Hulses twice denied the company's agents access to their land, which lies in the pipeline's proposed route, in late June to perform cultural and environmental surveys. The company is seeking a temporary injunction ordering the Hulses to grant access to the land and have a sheriff's deputy present, if needed, to ensure surveyors can complete their task.
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Navigator agents earlier were allowed on the land to perform a civil survey and completed a boundary survey from the road.
Rickert said with winter approaching, it's important for Navigator to finish the remaining surveys while weather cooperates.
"We need to complete these surveys because we need to figure out the route," he said during a hearing Friday in Woodbury County District Court. "We need to get out there, and we need to do this now."
The Hulses' attorney, Brian Jorde, argued Navigator has not shown it would be irreparably harmed if the surveys were not done immediately. He also said because Vicki Hulse did not pick up a registered letter Navigator sent notifying her of the intent to survey, the company failed to serve notice, as required by law. The company also could obtain an access easement to perform the surveys.
"We never said they can't do this. Just do it the right way and obey our constitutional rights," Jorde said.
Jorde has filed a counterclaim on behalf of the Hulses challenging the constitutionality of Iowa laws permitting pipeline companies the right of entry to private land to survey and examine it. They've asked for an injunction prohibiting Navigator's agents from entering their property until the constitutionality issue has been decided.
Though the constitutionality issue was not the subject of Friday's hearing, Jorde said the Hulses have the right to deny Navigator access to their land and Iowa law states pipeline companies must pay for the right of entry.
Arguing against the injunction, Jorde told Sailer a temporary injunction essentially would be a permanent one. If the survey is allowed to proceed and is completed, the Hulses' constitutional challenge would be moot.
"It's a permanent injunction disguised as a temporary injunction," Jorde said.
Sailer said he would issue a ruling on Navigator's injunction request by next Friday.
Navigator has filed similar lawsuits in Clay and Butler counties against landowners there who also have denied access to their property. The Clay County landowner and one of the two in Butler County also have filed constitutional challenges similar to the Hulses'. Hearings on Navigator's injunction request in Clay County and one of the Butler County cases are scheduled for Oct. 12.
Navigator has proposed a $3 billion, 1,300-mile pipeline that would collect carbon dioxide from ethanol plants and fertilizer processors in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota and Illinois, convert it to liquid form and transport it under high pressure to a site in Illinois, where it would be pumped thousands of feet beneath the surface, keeping it from being released into the atmosphere.
The pipeline would run approximately 900 miles through 36 Iowa counties, including Woodbury, Clay and Butler counties. Other Siouxland counties include Plymouth, Lyon, Osceola, O'Brien, Cherokee, Dickinson and Buena Vista in Iowa and Dakota, Dixon and Wayne counties in Nebraska.
It's one of two carbon pipelines proposed to run through the area.