A legal battle over a proposed carbon capture pipeline got underway Friday in Woodbury County.
Last week, we introduced you to Vicki Hulse as she prepared for a court battle to keep pipeline surveyors off of her farmland. Navigator wants to put its carbon capture pipeline through three of Hulse's four parcels of land outside of Moville near the Woodbury/Plymouth County line.
READ MORE: "I knew that I was going to fight this": Woodbury Co. woman fights against CO2 pipeline
Friday in Woodbury County District Court, Navigator presented its case for a temporary injunction to allow their team on her property regardless of Hulse's agreement to it or not. Navigator claims they have done everything required by law to access the property with or without Hulse's permission. Navigator says these surveys take less than two hours to complete and do no harm to the property, but Hulse's refusal is causing great harm to their company.
"We need to complete these surveys because we have to figure out our route. Our petition to the Iowa Utilities Board is being planned to be filed in the next month or so and we need to complete these activities," said Brian Rickert, who is representing Navigator. "The harm to Navigator is great because it slows our project down and it slows our ability to do the surveys we need, especially the ones that are weather dependent. You can't do searches for things that are on the ground when the ground is covered in snow or ice. We need to get out there and we need to do these now, but for the fact that the defendant is stopping that, we would have had these done already."
Navigator, which wants to build a $3 billion, 1,300-mile pipeline across 5 midwest states, claims this is nothing more than a tactic for Hulse and the other landowners who are keeping surveyors off of their land. For Hulse's team, this legal battle is not just a fight for the Hulse farm but for property rights for all Iowans.
"It's a fight for anyone who cares about property rights," said Brian Jorde, part of the law team representing Hulse. "And we are fighting for all future generations of Iowa. And we need to make sure that all unconstitutional statutes that take away property rights are voided, and changed and abolished."
Hulse's team argued in court that because their client did not pick up the registered letter sent by Navigator notifying her of the intent to survey the property, the company failed to serve notice which is required by law, instead saying the company can do the survey via an easement. They also argue that Iowa law states that pipeline companies must compensate landowners for rights of entry to their property.
Jorde told Siouxland News after the hearing that this is a very emotional time for his client, whose husband is in a veterans home in Iowa and doesn't know about this legal battle over their property that his wife currently facing. Hulse was not in court Friday for the hearing.
This hearing was over Navigator's lawsuit to gain access to the Hulse property, not Hulse's countersuit against Navigator which is challenging Iowa laws that permit the right of entry for companies to private land for things like surveys. That hearing will come at a later date. Currently, Hulse is asking for an injunction to keep Navigator off of the property until that constitutionality case has been decided.
District Judge Roger Sailer says he will issue his ruling on Navigator's case by the end of next week. Navigator has filed similar lawsuits against three other Iowa landowners in Clay and Butler counties who have also denied surveyors access to their property, two of those landowners have also filed similar constitutional challenges like Hulse's in Iowa court.
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It's a beautiful piece of farmland in Woodbury County and sits along the Plymouth County line and like many Iowa farms, it's a family heirloom.
"We love this farm. It's 151 acres. It has been in his family for many, many years. And our farm is five years shy of being a century farm." And now Vicki Hulse of Moville, Iowa is fighting to keep her and her husband's land out of the hands of a carbon capture pipeline.
"We have worked hard to pay for our land," Hulse told me during an interview at the Siouxland News studios. "We bought the farm from his dad's estate, and he worked two jobs. I work two jobs to pay for this farm. And we have two children that we want to hand the farm down to. And I'm fighting against eminent domain for private gain."
According to Cornell Law School, eminent domain refers to the power of the government to take private property and convert it into public use. Because of this, Heartland Greenway's Navigator CO2 pipeline has sent surveyors to each property where their pipeline will be. Hulse has twice refused to let them enter.
"I did not sign the letter for the easement. I did not sign anything," she said.
"I knew that I was going to fight this." This fight is personal for Hulse, not just because this pipeline would run through three of her four parcels of land, but because her husband William can't fight alongside her.
"My husband is a Vietnam veteran. He was exposed to Agent Orange and he's in the Iowa veterans home in Marshalltown," she explained, "and I am his voice and I am doing exactly what I feel he would want me to do fighting for your land, fight for our land. He fought for our country and I am fighting for our land."
And fighting she is. Hulse has twice denied surveyors access to her farmland. In response, Navigator is suing Hulse to gain access citing eminent domain. She has filed a countersuit seeking an injunction of her own. "They're a private company," she explained. "And so no private company should have the right to be able to claim eminent domain."
The Hulse's farmland is also part of the state's Conservation Reserve Program and this pipeline she says would harm everything that makes it beautiful. "The farmland is in the (Conservation Reserve Program), It's got birds and butterflies and deer and wildlife. And that's just part of it, you know, part of its crops. But you go out there and you just see all the wildlife and we want to leave the land better than we got it," she said. "And so to see a pipeline come through would just be heartbreaking."
And because of her husband's health, she's fighting alone. "I haven't even explained this to my husband. He has dementia," she said as she teared up. "I don't think he would even grasp any of this. And so I'm trying to make all these decisions." Her son and daughter are also fighting by her side as they will one day take over the farm.
There are over 130 other landowners also fighting against the Navigator Pipeline, plus the two other proposed pipelines, Summit Carbon Solutions and Wolf Carbon Solutions, that would run through Iowa. But Hulse is one of the few taking legal action against them now.
"Do you think there are any positives to this pipeline proposal? Big or small?" I asked her.
"No, no, there's no nothing. I can't think of a thing," she said passionately, "Can you?"
Hulse says this pipeline, should it go online, would impact not just the landowners whose property it runs through but the towns and communities nearby.
"I just want to make people aware. There are so many people that I talked to that they say well, that CO2 in the air, you're breathing it, but no, it is not the CO2 that is in your diet coke. It's not the CO2 that's in the canisters," she said. "This is 2,000 pounds of pressure in an eight-inch pipe that is liquefied. And if there is a leak of the earth an explosion, it is so dangerous."
She says this fight isn't just hers or even the landowners who have been targeted by Navigator and these other pipelines, but it's Iowa's fight.
"I wish you knew that if you let this pipeline go through and let them claim eminent domain for private gain," she said. "That is just a stepping stone for the first company to do that. That it will far reach anything else to happen for any other company to keep doing this? On and on and on. I mean, where would it stop?"
Hulse and the others who oppose the Navigator and the other two proposed CO2 pipelines have reached out to state leaders, going as far as marching in front of the Iowa Capitol building and sending meeting requests to Governor Reynolds with no response. She says getting more Iowans involved in the fight against these pipelines is key to stopping them, and getting involved is easy. "Do exactly what we're doing, become more aware. Just keep talking to your neighbors and fight the good fight."
Because this land... is Iowa.
"There's only so much land and that if you keep destroying the land, putting hazardous things in the land and putting these hazardous pipelines in, there's not going to be more land. This is it," she said.
"We have to preserve our land."What would your husband say if he could fight this fight with you?" I asked.
"He would be... He would be more vocal than I would be. He would be knocking on doors. He would be calling his legislators," she said of her husband. "And he had a big voice."
And now Vicki is that voice. For her husband and so many others in this fight against the pipelines.
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A group of talented young chefs are gearing up to put on a live show for Siouxland this week.
Master Chef Jr. Live is kicking off its nationwide tour in Sioux City. Siouxland News got a behind-the-scenes look at their preparations and what the audience can expect during this live rendition of the hit FOX show, Master Chef Jr. Four young chefs, ages 13 to 15, will compete live on the stage, cooking up recipes you can smell from the very last row.
"If you're going to come in here seeing this for the first time, it's not something that you are going to need a precursor on. It's something that you are absolutely going to fall in love with all of these chefs that are up here on stage," said host Maclain Dassatti. "And it's all about just enjoying the wonderful foods that you are going to be smelling as they are cooking them right in front of you and let me tell you, it is going to make your belly rumble, but we are all about that here at Master Chef Jr. Live."
These young chefs have been cooking up a storm this week in Sioux City in preparation for the show. One junior Master Chef told us his passion for cooking comes from seeing others smile.
"It's just so heartwarming to know that you can cook something for somebody to taste and enjoy and fulfill their nourishment and everything," said 13-year-old chef Adan Lisaula. "I am really excited to be in Sioux City. I'm really excited to see everybody that lives in Sioux City so you are going to have to come on down!"
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You can get a glimpse of their life on the hit TV shows like Grey's Anatomy, Chicago Med or ER, but being a trauma nurse in a real-life emergency room can be a challenging, rewarding and exhilarating career path.
"It's not all fun and glory. There are sad days too," said Lea Mathison, who is the Trauma Program Manager at MercyOne Siouxland. "But though you think about the days that you really made an impression and how you really make a difference and that's just what being a nurse is all about. And an ER trauma really encompasses all of that."
Inside the emergency room at MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center, you'll find a Level Two Trauma Center, the 2nd highest certification a hospital can achieve for trauma response.
"We have a trauma surgeon on call 24/7, neurosurgeons, a certain level of radiology and imaging, OR, anesthesia, neurology, all that kind of stuff to have that response," said nurse Barbara Fitzgerald. "What the research has shown is that if you go to where that specialty is you have a better outcome."
Barbara Fitzgerald and Lea Mathison are two of the leading trauma nurses at MercyOne. They are part of a dedicated team that helps anyone who comes into the emergency room.
"And the ER, you know that it could be they checked in for a stubbed toe or they come in carrying their own leg like you had no idea what's gonna come in and you're just, you're just ready for anything," said Mathison. "You're just always on edge. You're always excited. you're always thinking that what am I going to do to be able to help these people."
For many trauma nurses, they thrive on the chaos and the unknown that each day and each patient can bring.
"Here, we have no set routines," said Fitzgerald. "It's whatever walks in that door and it can be anything from the most minor injury to the most major, to very life-threatening and being able to take that and do a huge trauma where everything is just crazy and chaotic. And then turn around and go back in and do something much more simple like laceration and still kind of get that same. Like, let's go let's get it done. Let's get them taken care of," she continued.
"But not only am I the right-hand person of the trauma surgery, ER doctor, but I do everything to help stabilize that patient, said Mathison. "And that just brings home to me of the success stories that I could bring. I contributed to that. I really made a difference in those patients' lives."
And both Mathison and Fitzgerald have had patients and families return to thank them for helping them through their toughest days.
"I had somebody come back and thanked me for saving her life and thanking me for saving her dad's life even though her mom had passed away," said Mathison, "it was a very tragic moment, but it's very heartwarming at the fact that I was able to be there for her hardest time."
There are even moments when these nurses see their own loved ones brought through the ER doors. "Three years after I started here, my dad came in as a code red," said Fitzgerald. "He was flown in by helicopter. I tell you what, the ER nurses are amazing that they can turn around and you know, this person is going get taken care of to the best of their ability, they're getting the best treatment."
For those of us who don't work in an ER, what goes on inside may look unorganized and disordered, but it is actually a well-oiled machine where nurses and the rest of the team know what it takes to give their patients the best chance at going home beginning the moment they come through the emergency room doors.
"I think the biggest thing is that you've got to have that just that personality that kind of thrives on chaos and is able to roll with it and just kind of say, you know, 'this is me, we're doing it. I want something exciting," Fitzgerald said of the nurses who work on the ER floor.
"If there's a chance and we can change it, we will," said Fitzgerald, "and that's what makes any ER nurse, that's what makes me want to be an ER nurse is being able to say, hey, we really made a difference this time." These nurses work at the top of their skillset doing everything from vital checks to chest tubes and prioritizing patients' emergent medical needs. "The ER is meant to be the safety net for society. If you don't know where to go, they come here," said Fitzgerald, "and that's what makes unfortunately sometimes your wait here longer or your run through here much longer."
"That's really what an ER nurse is," said Mathison, "is that somebody that's going to make a difference and think, think on your toes and just the critical thinking skills and the anticipation of what that physician is going to need and that's really what we do."
Because for the MercyOne trauma team, coming to work and owning up, means making a difference is saving lives each and every day.
"You don't know what you're walking into but you know that it's gonna be something new every day," said Fitzgerald.
"We are life savers. We are incredible life-saving bodies and it's not just myself," said Mathison. "All of my nurses that are trauma nurses, they are phenomenal and they're lifesavers and they do wonderful things."
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