Emma Schmidt, an environmental activist from Rockwell City, Iowa, found an unlikely ally in her fight against a carbon dioxide pipeline when she met with former Representative Steve King. The meeting between the liberal Democrat and conservative Republican marked the beginning of a left-right alliance that aims to bring the issue of the pipeline to the forefront of the Republican presidential caucuses. The Summit, Navigator, and Wolf Carbon pipelines, which are backed by federal tax credits, would transport carbon dioxide from Iowa corn ethanol factories through farmland in Iowa and other Midwestern states. The pipelines are touted as a climate protection measure, but some experts argue that they are only a partial solution at best.
The issue of the pipelines has now become a topic of discussion among Republican presidential candidates, although most campaigns have declined to comment. Former President Donald J. Trump was asked about the pipelines during a recent event in Iowa and seemed unsure how to respond. Several Republican candidates have expressed skepticism towards climate change and may be reluctant to support a project aimed at reducing carbon emissions. However, opposing the pipelines would also mean opposing Iowa’s ethanol industry, which is of great importance to the state.
Powerful figures from both political parties have signed on with the pipeline companies, including former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Jess Vilsack, son of current Democratic Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Large agricultural companies such as John Deere and A.D.M. have also invested in the pipeline projects. However, opponents of the pipelines, including environmental activists and conservative farmers, argue that they are dangerous and will destroy farmland without effectively curbing global warming.
The left-right alliance that has formed in opposition to the pipelines represents landowners who are angry about the potential seizure of their land through eminent domain. These landowners fear environmental damage and crop loss as a result of the pipeline construction. The alliance is also pushing for investment in proven climate change solutions rather than in projects like the pipelines.
Overall, the pipelines have become a contentious issue in Iowa and have the potential to impact the Republican presidential race, especially as the first public hearings on the Summit pipeline are set to begin in August. It remains to be seen how the candidates will ultimately respond to the issue, but their positions could have significant implications for Iowa’s ethanol industry and the future of carbon emissions reduction efforts.