Navigator Heartland Greenway Attempts to Buy Off McDonough County
To Gain Support for Dangerous CO2 Pipeline
SPRINGFIELD, IL -- Just days after temporarily withdrawing its project proposal from the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC), Navigator Heartland Greenway LLC is now offering McDonough County up to $630,000 per year for thirty years if the county agrees to support the project. The proposed “Project Development Agreement” would require County officials to declare that the project is in the best interest of county residents, cease their opposition to the pipeline, and support the facilitation of the project. Local McDonough County residents and the Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines urge the McDonough County Board to reject Navigator’s shady attempt to garner approval for this project and are calling for statewide regulations to protect Illinoisans from dangerous projects like the Navigator CO2 Pipeline.
“Despite McDonough County residents’ clear and vocal opposition to the pipeline, Navigator is asking the County Board to ignore our concerns about a project that will put residents’ lives at risk, require eminent domain, damage farmland, and destroy expensive drainage tile systems,” says Kurt Kelso, McDonough County farmer. “Why make a $600,000 offer now, and not over a year ago when Navigator first came to town? I believe Navigator’s offer is a hurried attempt to push forward with this project that residents largely oppose and get profits in the pockets of Navigator Heartland Greenway and their investors as soon as possible. I hope the County Board will continue to stand up for the rights of farmers like me and, once again, say no to Navigator.”
The “Project Development Agreement” offered to McDonough County comes just days after Navigator Heartland Greenway LLC withdrew its original application amidst skepticism from the ICC and opposition from the public. To date, Navigator has only obtained 6 percent of the easements needed to construct the pipeline, reflecting widespread opposition. McDonough County previously filed a Petition to Intervene with the ICC to formally oppose the project and participate in ICC proceedings. Navigator is now offering McDonough County $20,000 for every mile of the pipeline constructed in the county in exchange for the County’s reversed stance on the project.
“If Navigator is offering this deal to McDonough County, I expect they will be talking to Fulton County next,” says April Tatham, Fulton County landowner and member of the Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines. “Navigator’s deal will supposedly cover the cost of emergency equipment needed in case of a pipeline rupture, but it doesn't address safe setbacks required to protect people living along the pipeline corridor. How can we be sure that the money offered by Navigator will be enough to equip a county with the emergency equipment and first responders needed in case of a disaster? Navigator admits they have no experience with the wide range of operational and safety issues associated with CO2 pipelines. Yet, they want to move forward with this project before the federal government completes the rule-making process for improved safety and oversight. Despite the public backlash in counties like mine along the Galva lateral route, Navigator is now trying to squash the opposition by sweetening the deal with cash to local governments.”
“Over the past year, I have worked closely with residents, landowners, and County Board members in counties along Navigator's CO2 pipeline corridor. Local residents and governments have done what they can to protect themselves from this dangerous pipeline by adopting resolutions, moratoriums, and intervening at the ICC,” says Pam Richart, lead organizer with the Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines. “Navigator will clearly stop at nothing to move forward with its project, and their recent decision to withdraw their application from the ICC has made it so that local residents must spend even more time and money to continue to fight this proposal. I believe that Navigator is hoping they can make deals with local governments like McDonough County in order to buy them off. It is evident that we need state regulations, including developing standards to ensure safe setbacks and reexamining eminent domain. We need to protect those who will bear the risks and costs associated with these under-regulated pipelines. Corporations like Navigator Heartland Greenway should not be given free rein to seize Illinoisans’ properties and endanger their lives.”
Navigator representatives will be meeting with the McDonough County Board’s Law and Legal Committee on Monday, February 6. That Committee will make its recommendation regarding Navigator’s offer to the full Board for consideration potentially as soon as Wednesday, February 15. Local McDonough County residents are encouraged to attend and urge the Committee and Board to oppose Navigator’s proposal.
Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines
The Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines is a growing coalition of Illinois environmental groups, landowners, and residents concerned about the environmental, economic, and the unprecedented safety hazards associated with building a network of CO2 pipelines across the state. The coalition believes the mad rush to build these pipelines as part of the technology called carbon capture and sequestration is dangerous and a false solution that will keep Illinois reliant on fossil fuels.