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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

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Florida faces lawsuits over its new election law, a medical board fines an Indiana doctor for speaking about a 10-year-old's abortion, and Minnesota advocates say threats to cut SNAP funds are off the mark.

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The White House and Speaker McCarthy gain support to pass their debt ceiling agreement, former President Donald Trump retakes the lead in a new GOP primary poll, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is impeached.

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The growing number of "maternity care deserts" makes having a baby increasingly dangerous for rural Americans, a Colorado project is connecting neighbor to neighbor in an effort to help those suffering with mental health issues, and a school district in Maine is using teletherapy to tackle a similar challenge.

IA Eminent Domain Opponents Herald House-Passed Bill

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Tuesday, March 28, 2023   

The Iowa House has passed a bill to restrict the use of eminent domain for carbon dioxide pipeline operators in the state. The measure would require the companies to receive permission from landowners before constructing the pipelines.

Right now, the pipeline companies have to get permission only from the three-member, unelected Iowa Utilities Board to use eminent domain, and landowners are completely left out of the process.

Devyn Hall, organizer for the group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, said House File 565 would give property owners back the ability to make decisions.

"It pulls the power back into the people's hands," Hall asserted. "With landowners, they'd be able to have some control over what's happening in their lives rather than rely on an unelected, three-person board to make decisions for them."

As it stands, Iowa law has no requirement for pipeline companies to get permission from landowners before imposing eminent domain and taking it. The bill awaits action in the Senate.

Specifically, the bill would require pipeline operators to obtain voluntary easements on 90% of properties along a proposed line before employing eminent domain. At least three corporations are discussing using pipelines through to route carbon dioxide emissions out of the state in exchange for carbon tax credits, part of a larger removal strategy called carbon capture and storage.

For now, the Utilities Board has the final say over whether it can happen, which Hall argued leaves Iowa landowners vulnerable to the whims of those corporations, and unprotected under Iowa's eminent domain law.

"Right now what this fight means is it's a decision between whether we'll allow private companies to use eminent domain for private gain, or if we will stand with our own people and say these polluting companies can't have control over what happens to us," Hall contended.

The bill must pass through the Senate Commerce Committee by the end of this week, where its fate is uncertain. Several similar pipeline bills have died there.

Disclosure: Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Environmental Justice, Human Rights/Racial Justice, and Rural/Farming Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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