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Guest Editorial: Landowners have much to consider with carbon pipeline plan

Asking meaningful questions about the project ensures the best possible outcome

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We are part of The Trust Project.

LAKEFIELD — Early spring is the best time to appreciate the land; winter has snow, while late spring through late fall has transforming vegetive color. It is not our land; we are merely custodians providing for our Lord’s people using the latest conservational practices available.

Land covers 29% of our world and World Bank states 37% of land is classified as agricultural. Nearly 28% of agricultural land is arable, which best describes the land in southwest Minnesota. A meek 3% of our world’s land is arable.

The U.S. has the second most arable land in the world along with the most efficient modes of aggregation and transportation from production to domestic and world markets, the U.S. is truly blessed.

Recently, full-page advertisements of Summit Carbon Solutions (Summit) have been printed in local papers announcing their plans to build the world’s largest carbon sequestering project. Sequestering requires capturing the carbon at its source and transporting it through a 2,000-mile pipeline connecting the heartland’s industries. This involves trenching a 4- to 24-inch pipe, over 5 feet deep.

Part of this project is planned for Jackson, Cottonwood and counties farther north. Thankfully for Minnesota’s landowners, eminent domain does not exist for private companies. Summit openly states all pipeline construction will be completed on voluntary easements or approval from the landowner.

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Signing a voluntary easement may provide financial benefits and take away rights just as selling agricultural land. U.S. agriculture land values have increased 5.7% each year since 1970. The statistics above illustrate reasons for this trend: finite supply with growing demand.

A land agent disclosed an easement value of the land at 125% to be paid to landowners. A landowner would reach 125% of current land value in 12.5 years given historic inflation rates (3.9%). This exercise falls apart when understanding the true time horizon of farming/landowning; we speak in generations.

Before any signatures happen, I feel obligated to tell our fellow neighbors the conversations around my kitchen table. Setting aside my position of carbon sequestration limiting greenhouse gas emissions, below is a glimpse of my ask pending I allow Summit to trench a pipe in my ground:

1. Community Endowment Fund greater than $1 million

2. Funding towards land-grant university research studying the environmental impacts of carbon sequestration and its safety

3. Landowner to be placed on the general liability policy as a co-insured and be notified if policy is nearing $1 million remaining of coverage

4. Approved risk mitigation plan/leak detection plan

Summit profoundly indicates that disturbances of the soil are minimal and that they have learned from previous mistakes of other pipeline companies. The process of exposing subsoil with topsoil ruptures soil structures, ruins fertility and invites yield loss for future production.

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There are many risks an agricultural landowner takes into consideration when signing an easement; however, I will let those experts speak for themselves and subside my safety, environmental and community concerns.

Asking meaningful questions about the project ensures the best possible outcome. Just as land joins each parcel of ground passed from generations, we as farmers and landowners must unite. Speak to your neighbors, split legal bills, share information, and create the best outcome as possible for the community and future generations. There is a united group of landowners defending our rights. If you are a landowner in the path of the proposed pipeline anywhere in Minnesota and would like more information please contact me at (507) 360-7862.

Read more: bit.ly/SummitPosition

Larry Liepold
Okabena

Related Topics: COMMENTARY
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