Lately, the debate over what the Legislature is and isn’t doing to help landowners that are in a position to be affected by eminent domain from carbon pipelines has been gaining traction.

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In a recent report by Radio Iowa, Republican Representative Bobby Kaufmann, who has been pushing for legislative action on the issue, is saying that it is now time for a moratorium to prevent developers from seeking government help to gain access to land along the route before February 1, 2023.

However, not everyone is convinced this is necessary.

Republican Senator Dennis Guth told KIWA Radio that even without a moratorium in place, the Iowa Utilities Board wouldn’t even be done with the eminent domain process by that time.

The bill really does absolutely nothing and it doesn't belong on a budget bill anyhow. So it's not going to stay on my budget bill.

But, Kaufmann disagrees.

You can say that the eminent domain legislation didn't go far enough. You can say that eminent domain legislation is not needed, but to state that the language that the House passed is useless is ignorant.

He adds the point of having the proposal is to help address some of the fears people affected by the pipeline may have.

Landowners who don't believe what Senator Guth says about the IUB timeline. They don't believe what I say about the IUB timeline. They don't believe what the pipeline companies say about the IUB timeline. They believe that once we leave, the playing field changes, so putting a moratorium on the eminent domain until we're back is a very impactful thing.

And when Kaufmann refers to leaving, he is referring to when the session isn’t in session.

Kailey via Canva
Kailey via Canva

Last week, people expressed their fears about the pipeline at a gathering at the statehouse. There, landowners, politicians, and activists were able to share their concerns about having their land taken away because of eminent domain.

Kaufmann says that passing this legislation can help send a message to these people.

To pass pipeline legislation regarding eminent domain is a message to the pipeline companies that we have an expectation as a legislature for you to negotiate fairly. Heads up, we're willing to act. You can say, again, that you'd like it to go further and you can say we don't need it at all, but it is not useless, but it definitely does things.

Senator Guth and other Senate leaders are working together to come up with a long-term fix that they can present in the 2023 legislative session that would limit the use of eminent domain in private sector projects.

The bill that would provide the moratorium now has only been approved in the House and still needs to be voted on in the Senate.

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