The proposed pipeline, backed by ADM, intended to capture and a 300-mile channel that will transport liquid carbon dioxide raw carbon dioxide, will pass through northern Scott and Rock Island counties, company representatives told the Scott County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
Archer Daniels Midland, known as ADM, and Wolf Carbon Solutions, which operates the Carbon Pipeline in Canada, are proposing to build an approximately 300-mile underground pipeline to transport liquid carbon dioxide, a by-product of ethanol, from ADM plants in Cedar Rapids and Clinton to the ADM sequestration site in central Illinois.
It’s Iowa’s third proposed carbon pipeline, which advocates say will help the ethanol industry survive as the county looks to cut greenhouse gases to combat climate change, as well as help the transition away from fossil fuels.
Iowans opposed the passage of carbon pipelines through their land, with concerns that companies would use the prominent domain to grab land from unwilling landowners. Some environmental groups say carbon pipelines represent an ongoing dependence on fossil fuel use and depend on public tax money that could instead be used for wind or solar projects.
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The exact route of the pipeline has not been determined, Nicholas Knupinger, Wolff’s carbon advisor, told Scott County Supervisors Tuesday.
A map provided by the two companies shows a potential right of way extending through Lynn, Cedar, Scott and Clinton counties in Iowa and Rock Island, Henry and Stark, Peoria, Tazewell, Logan, DeWitt, and Macon counties in Illinois.
Knubbinger said the company plans to have a more accurate track by summer, and public hearings are expected in July.
He added that if everything goes as planned, it is likely that the pipeline will be operational in 3 to 3 and a half years.
Representatives from ADM and Wolf Carbon Solutions, a subsidiary of Wolf Midstream, said the proposed pipeline would remove 5 million to 6 million tons of carbon dioxide annually from the atmosphere from ethanol and fertilizer plants. Nobinger said other companies could “plug” the pipeline they want to decarbonise.
Knupinger said Woolf did not petition for the use of eminent domain, that is, the government’s power to seize private land for public use or benefit.
“We never needed to use the prominent field in our areas,” Knupinger said. “The eminent domain, it’s scarce. It’s kind of a means of last resort. And for us, we don’t like using it because it gets in the way of the process and disrupts the whole kind of cohesion between landowners and the pipeline.”
“So we are trying to negotiate creatively with the landowners,” he added. “We try to incentivize them to pass our pipeline through their land, and if we can’t get there, we build and build wherever there are landowners willing to have a pipeline in their backyard.”
Knubbinger declined to give the reporter a cost estimate for the pipeline, saying the company keeps capital numbers confidential.
The carbon dioxide will be stored in the Mount Simon Formation in Decatur, Illinois, 7,000 feet underground. According to Knubbinger, the formation will have a wide scope to sequester the annual amount of carbon.
The decision to proceed with the pipeline will be up to the Iowa Utilities Board.
Several supervisors, including farms John Maxwell and Ken Croken, questioned whether the pipeline made economic and environmental sense as the United States moves away from fossil fuels and toward electric vehicles, especially if it will take several years before it is up and running.
“The auto industry is jumping into the electric industry,” Croken said. “Are we just delaying the inevitable with this kind of project? Spending big amounts of money on technology that doesn’t last long into our future?”
The Iowa Sierra Club has fought similar proposals for pipelines, arguing that subsidies to pipeline projects would be better used in solar and wind energy.
“This is at the moment just throwing a ton of public money into a giant experiment that has shown us so far that it is not that productive,” said Jess Mazur of the Iowa branch of the Sierra Club.
Food and Water Watch, a national environmental group, estimates that Iowa’s carbon pipelines could receive up to $23 billion in subsidies.
US Senator Chuck Grassley, the Republican senator from Iowa, who visited Davenport on Tuesday, contested a question about whether he supports public subsidies for carbon sequestration tubes such as those being considered across Iowa.
He said a tax bill was under consideration in Congress and was “looking at alternatives in that direction, but whether the pipeline actually exists goes to the Iowa Utilities Commission and the Iowa Legislature.”
It’s grown on land with a pipeline underneath that doesn’t contain carbon dioxide, Maxwell said, and that yields are generally lower after construction crews disturbed the topsoil.
It will take time for the entire energy-to-electricity transition, Knupinger said, and the pipeline will help achieve goals to get carbon out of the atmosphere before then.