Iowans rally at State Capitol against eminent domain for carbon pipelines

IOWA CAPITAL DISPATCH
BY: KATHIE OBRADOVICH – JANUARY 10, 2024

A crowd of over 100 – including two Republican presidential candidates and several Iowa GOP lawmakers – rallied Wednesday at the Iowa Capitol to oppose the use of eminent domain for carbon-capture pipelines.

Ohio entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who has made the property-rights issue a central focus of his presidential campaign in recent weeks, spoke at the rally in the Capitol rotunda. Fellow GOP candidate Ryan Binkley, a Texas businessman and pastor, also spoke at the event.

Ramaswamy and others argued that it is unconstitutional and illegal under Iowa law to seize private property for the benefit of a private company. He said as president, he would withhold tax subsidies from carbon pipeline operators that use eminent domain. Currently, pipeline operators stand to collect millions in subsidies under a federal program to capture carbon dioxide and mitigate climate change.

“And so my pledge to you today is that as your next president, I will refuse to transmit any subsidies to any private actor, including in this state, if they are using eminent domain to violate the private property rights of citizens. That’s how we put an end to this,” Ramaswamy said.

State Rep. Steven Holt, right, embraces GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy after endorsing his campaign at a Statehouse rally Jan. 10, 2024 to oppose the use of eminent domain for carbon pipelines. (Photo by Kathie Obradovich/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

State Rep. Steven Holt, R-Denison, endorsed Ramaswamy during the rally and said the eminent domain issue was a factor in his decision. “He was, to my knowledge, the first presidential candidate to bring focus to this issue. And it shows his love for the Constitution and his courage and fighting for the rights of the people,” Holt said.

Holt sponsored legislation in the Iowa House last year that would have prevented pipeline companies from using eminent domain for more than 10% of their routes. The House passed the bill, but the Senate did not take it up.

Holt said he’s been working with several other legislators on another proposal to restrict eminent domain. “But I have no illusion, and neither should you, as to the difficulty of getting it passed. But we will not stop trying. And I know that you will not stop trying,” he told the crowd at the rally. Read More