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Linn County is proposing an ordinance that is purposefully limited to establishing setbacks for hazardous materials pipelines to protect the health, safety, and welfare of Linn County residents in conformance with the Linn County Comprehensive Plan.
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Iowa Code Chapters 479 and 479B give the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) authority to oversee the state permitting process for intrastate hazardous liquid or natural gas pipelines. The IUB reviews the location and route of proposed pipelines, and may grant the permit with conditions related to these factors. There are no specific rules as to a pipeline’s location or setback. Both chapters require the IUB to consider the “the relationship of the proposed project to the present and future land use and zoning ordinances. (The Iowa Legislature, 2022, p. 479.6(9) and 479B.5(7))” as the petition for a permit must include this information. While the IUB must consider county zoning and future land use plans, the IUB is not the enforcement authority to ensure zoning and future land use plans are met. This can be interpreted as left to counties.
In May 2022, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced a new rulemaking for carbon dioxide pipelines, in response to a pipeline failure in Satartia, Mississippi (PHMSA, PHMSA Announces New Safety Measures to Protect Americans From Carbon Dioxide Pipeline Failures After Satartia, MS Leak, 2022). The standards are not yet available from PHMSA. In the absence of updated standards, Linn County is proposing setbacks based on the best available current knowledge.