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A RUSH to build CO2 Pipelines
Navigator CO2 Ventures, a Texas-based company with experience in the development of oil pipelines, wants to transport high-pressure, liquified COfrom industrial clients across South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Iowa to a predetermined location in Christian County, Illinois. The proposed pipeline will pass through 13 Illinois counties, including Hancock, Adams, McDonough, Henry, Knox, Fulton, Schuyler, Brown, Pike, Scott, Morgan, Sangamon, and Christian. The 1,300-mile-long CO2 pipeline will serve 20 or more ethanol and fertilizer plants, and transport 15 million tons of CO2 annually.

This is one of two such pipelines proposed. The second is a partnership between Wolf Carbon Solutions and ADM. That pipeline will offer dedicated capacity to transport 12 million tons CO2, annually, from ADM’s ethanol and cogeneration facilities in Clinton and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The CO2 will be injected underground at ADM’s fully permitted and already-operational sequestration site in Decatur, Illinois.

So What’s the Problem? 
These pipelines are among the first of many expected to be proposed across the Midwest as part of a developing technology called carbon capture and storage.

#1. CO2 pipelines are not safe.
Carbon Dioxide pipelines differ from oil and gas.They transport high-pressure, liquified CO2 in pipelines that are not well-regulated by the Pipelines Safety Hazards Management Administration or the State of Illinois. If they leak or rupture, the CO2 will displace oxygen. When this happens, the odorless and tasteless gas can spread to surrounding areas, and within minutes, asphyxiate humans and livestock.

  • At concentrations between 2%-10%, CO2 can cause nausea; dizziness; headache; mental confusion; and increased blood pressure and respiratory rates.
  • Above 8%, nausea and vomiting appear, and concentrations of 10% or more lead to suffocation and death.

In elevated concentrations, COcan prevent internal combustion engines from operating, making it difficult for rescue vehicles to respond to emergencies and for residents to flee the affected area.

Read: The Gassing of Satartia.

#2. Few Regulations Exist.
Because it is a relatively new technology, federal oversight of CO2 pipelines is limited. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has declined to take jurisdiction over them. State regulations are not designed for COpipelines like these.

#3. These projects are heavily funded by the taxpayer.
Section 45Q of the Internal Revenue Code provides tax credits on a per-ton basis to companies that successfully trap, sequester and store carbon emissions. The $50 per ton of carbon captured and stored is often shared among the industrial (or power generation) sources, pipeline developers, and carbon sequestration facilities. Bi-partisan proposals are under consideration to increase this credit from $50 a ton to $85 a ton, further accelerating this “mad dash” to build pipelines for corporate profit, but at the expense of the taxpayer, who also bears the brunt of the risk (health, unsuccessful projects, damaged farmland, etc.).

#4 Pipelines Extend the Life of Fossil Fuels.
Instead of spending money to more rapidly deploy renewable energy technologies, billions of federal dollars are being spent to keep the fossil fuel industry in business. This is particularly true for projects that involve enhanced oil recovery (EOR). At recent meetings in Illinois, Navigator indicated that they are not planning to use the CO2 captured from industrial sources for EOR, but that they are open to customers who may request it. This process perpetuates the use of fossil fuels, at a time when scientists are clearly saying we need to keep them in the ground.

#5 Landowners: All Risk, and No Reward
Corporations profit from carbon capture and sequestration via federal tax credits and low-interest loans. Landowners take all the risk, with little to no reward. While they are compensated for the use of their land, payments from pipeline companies do not begin to approach those that are received from wind or solar located on their farmland. Such renewable energy technologies either power a farm, residence, or commercial / industrial property; or if the land is leased by a solar or wind developer, landowners are paid annually in long-term, revenue-sharing agreements. 

#6. CCS hasn't worked. 
Despite extensive support, 80% of the projects that have attempted to to commercialize carbon capture and sequestration technology, have ended in failure. Between 2005 and 2012, the Department of Energy spent $6.9 billion attempting to demonstrate the feasibility of CCS for coal, BUT less than 4% of the planned CCS capacity was deployed. 

Due to the large amount of energy required to power carbon capture and the life cycle of fossil fuels, carbon capture in the U.S. has actually put more CO2 into the atmosphere than it has removed. (Sekera, J., Lichtenberger, A. Assessing Carbon Capture: Public Policy, Science, and Societal Need. Biophys Econ Sust 5, 14 .2020).

Click to watch a demonstration of a rupture of an 8-inch CO2 pipeline. The main trunk proposed for Navigator's pipeline is three times this size (24 inches).

There's a New Coalition "In Town"
Eco-Justice Collaborative and partners have formed a new coalition to stop these risky pipelines. Named the Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines, it includes environmental groups; landowners along the proposed Navigator pipeline route; and residents concerned about safety and reduced property values. We expect to expand our work to include the Wolf Carbon Solutions / ADM pipeline, once information about proposed routing is released.

How to Learn More
The Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines is hosting an informational meeting via webinar in order to maximize attendance and reach. It’s easy to register, and no personal information you provide will be made public.

May 7, Information Webinar
Impacts of CO2 Pipelines
6:30pm to 8pm

Guest Speakers
We have invited Jessica Wiskus, affected landowner ,to speak. Jessica received notice from Navigator that her property lies within their planned corridor, and will share how this affects her. You also will hear from two experts:

Paul Blackburn, attorney, Bold Alliance, will present: what is behind this “gold-rush” of CO2 pipelines and how they are being funded; COpipeline safety concerns and lack of federal oversight; lowered crop productivity associated with pipeline construction; and explain that this pipeline is just one of many planned.

John Albers, attorney and advocate for renewable energy and transportation electrification, will speak about eminent domain; the Illinois Commerce Commission’s approval process; and how landowners, local officials, and emergency responders can organize to intervene. John formerly worked as an administrative judge at the ICC.

We have set aside plenty of time for questions. Answers to questions raised during the webinar also will be posted on the Coalition’s website. After the webinar, participants will be sent both the recording of the webinar and responses to questions raised during the meeting.

Contact Pam at prichart@ecojusticecollaborative.org

Be sure to check out our coalition's new website: www.noillinoisco2pipelines.org. It includes videos of webinars from Iowa on a variety of topics (safety, impacts to farmland, landowner rights, carbon sequestration, enhanced oil recovery, and the profitabiity of these pipelines for corporations).

Sign Up to Stay Informed
Sign up here, on the coalition's website, to receive regular updates from us. This will include notifications of events, meetings, and opportunities to support landowners and communities working to stop the pipleline.

Photo illustrating impacts associated with pipline construction. Dreamstime.

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