Stock Groups

U.S. Midwest carbon pipeline’s backers have close ties to Iowa government -Breaking


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds spoke by video stream during the virtually 2020 Republican National Convention that was broadcast from Washington, U.S.A. on August 25, 2020. 2020 Republican National Convention/Handout via REUTERS/File photo


Leah Douglas

(Reuters) – Summit Carbon Solutions is the company that proposed a massive carbon-pipeline project in the U.S. Midwest. According to a Reuters review, Summit Carbon Solutions has strong ties with Iowa regulators and officials charged with approving a significant portion of the route.

According to the review, at least four Summit leaders have connections to either the Iowa governor’s office (IUB) or the Iowa Utility Board, both of which may influence the future development of the approximately 2,000-mile (3.200 km) pipeline. Kim Reynolds is the largest individual donor. Terry Branstad (an ex-Iowa governor), is another, and he was the one who nominated 2 of 3 commissioners for IUB, as well as its chair.

Summit’s links to Iowa officials (which would receive the most Summit’s Midwest Carbon Express) have caused concern among ethic watchdogs as well as environmental groups. They are unsure if project opponents will be given a fair hearing.

Robert Maguire from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said, “I think there’s a valid concern by the (pipeline opposition) that they aren’t getting equal treatment” after examining the Reuters report.

Summit, based in Ames Iowa said that Summit was adhering to ethical and legal guidelines. It also stated that former regulators and officials often take on roles within the private sector where their experience is applicable.

Summit spokesperson Jesse Harris stated that it was not surprising that the company attracted strong bipartisan teams with diverse experiences in engineering, agriculture and public policy.

Summit is aiming to take millions of tons from 32 Midwest ethanol plant and transport it underground in North Dakota. Iowa would be the largest ethanol state and the pipe will run for 680 miles (1,000 km).

By reducing the industry’s carbon footprint while taking advantage federal and state subsidies, this project could help ensure that biofuels are part of a future climate-friendly.

Some landowners expressed concerns that the pipeline might reduce yields on their farms, decrease property values and pose a safety risk if it leaks.


According to Reuters, Bruce Rastetter (head of Summit’s parent firm Summit Agricultural Group) was the largest individual donor to Reynolds. According to data maintained by National Institute on Money in Politics, Rastetter contributed nearly $150,000 in total to Reynolds between 2018-2022.

Opponents worry that Reynolds will veto any bill critical of the pipeline, such as the one that was recently approved in the state House and would slow down the permitting process.

Branstad, Iowa’s Republican past governor who was also a U.S. ambassador in China during the Trump administration, is Summit’s chief policy advisor. Two of three IUB commissioners were appointed by Branstad during his 22-year term as governor. The chair was also appointed. The IUB will determine whether the project is allowed.

Summit’s Iowa lobbyists are Jake Ketzner who was Reynolds’ former chief-of-staff and Jeffrey Boeyink who was Branstad’s chief of Staff.

Don Torney, spokesperson at the IUB, stated that the members of the board are required to adhere to strict ethical standards. He said they would determine “at appropriate times” whether there were conflicts of interest by participating in the proceedings.

Reynolds spokesperson Alex Murphy said that the governor reviews every bill before it is sent to her.

Rastetter’s Summit Agricultural Group didn’t respond to a request.

Jess Mazour is an organizer for the Sierra Club environmental organization. She said that the relationship between Summit officials and those from Iowa made it seem like the public could not be opposed to the project.

In March, 98.9% (or 97.9%) of all comments on the Summit pipeline docket were against the pipeline.

Mazour stated, “If they listen to the people it’s clear that this should not be approved.”

Navigator CO2 Ventures is another pipeline company that proposes a carbon-pipeline through the area. According to the IUB docket, Samantha Norris was the main lawyer representing Navigator.

Norris directed Reuters’ Navigator to comment. The company called the concerns regarding the relationship “baseless.”

Reynolds did not take a position on the pipelines but in 2021 he named Summit and Navigator representatives to a state-level carbon sequestration taskforce or similar working group.