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Landowners Near Madison Leary of Carbon-Capture Pipeline; Second CO2 Pipeline May Reach Eastern Edge of SD

Last Wednesday was bad harvest weather, what with rain all day long, so about 75 landowners had time to come to Iowa-based Summit Carbon Solutions’ lunchtime sales pitch for its Midwest Carbon Express carbon-capture pipeline in Madison. According to the Madison Daily Leader, those landowners’ experience with the Dakota Access Bakken oil pipeline has made them leary of any more pipe crews tearing up their land:

“There’s quite a bit of pipeline fatigue due to bad experiences with DAPL,” area farmer Charlie Johnson said bluntly at one point during the discussion.

…Area landowners raised a wide range of questions related to subjects such as how the work would be done, how long it would take, how drain tile would be handled, whether compensation would be offered for destroyed shelterbelts, whether the company intended to work with local townships, how much carbon dioxide could be stored in North Dakota, and the economic benefits of the pipeline.

…A bone of contention appeared to be the lack of annual payments to property owners. Many expressed the opinion that if the company was benefiting from having a pipeline on their land, they, too, should benefit [Mary Gales Askren, “Iowa-Based Company Makes Pitch for CO2 Pipeline,” Madison Daily Leader, 2021.10.27].

Summit Carbon Solutions isn’t the only outfit promising to disrupt East River farming (although Summit lobbyist Jake Ketzner told the Lake County gathering, “The main purpose is to make sure corn producers have a market for their crops“) with a carbon-capture pipeline. Texas-based Navigator CO2 ventures just announced public meetings throughout Iowa to discuss its planned 1,300-mile Heartland Greenway CO2 pipeline, which would run mostly through Iowa but include spurs into Nebraska, Minnesota, and South Dakota.

Heartland Greenway Proposed Route, Navigator CO2 Ventures, retrieved 2021.11.01.
Heartland Greenway proposed route, Navigator CO2 Ventures, retrieved 2021.11.01.

Public meetings for landowners in other states hosting the Heartland Greenway are still TBA.

While Summit’s Midwest Carbon Express would ship CO2 northwest to North Dakota, Navigator’s Heartland Greenway would run CO2 the opposite direction to the Mt. Simon sandstone formation in central Illinois. Archer Daniels Midland began injecting CO2 from an ethanol plant adjoining the Mt. Simon site in April 2017 as part of a Department of Energy–National Energy Technology Laboratory demonstration project. As of last November, ADM’s Mt. Simon demo was failing to reach its carbon-sequestration goals:

Since starting operations at its largest project, the Illinois Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage Project, in 2017, the company has yet to reach its stated milestone of one million tons. Annual emissions stored are about half of those projected — around 519,000 tons, according to the EPA.

In fact, overall carbon emissions from ADM’s facilities in Decatur increased from 4.2 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2016, the year before the capture and storage project went online, to 4.4 million tons of CO2 in 2019, according to the most recent available EPA data [Jonathan Hettinger, “Despite Hundreds of Millions in Tax Dollars, ADM’s Carbon Capture Program Still Hasn’t Met Promised Goals,” Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, 2020.11.19].

But on the good side, injecting that carbon dioxide 7,000 feet underground only causes little earthquakes.

Like Summit, Navigator is focusing on collecting CO2 from Midwestern biofuel factories. And Navigator’s Illinois site could pick up more customers than Summit’s North Dakota site since there are a lot of coal-fired carbon-emitting plants in the Mt. Simon area.

Where Summit’s honchos include lots of Iowa GOP cronies, Navigator’s leadership team is dominated by finance and business types; there’s not an engineer in the bunch. But Republicans and money-makers alike are enthusiastic about these carbon-capture pipelines because President Joe Biden is promising to make the tax credits for carbon capture even bigger:

A proposed tax credit hike for U.S. carbon capture and sequestration projects being mulled by Congress could trigger a big jump in use of the climate-fighting technology to clean up industry, but environmentalists worry the scheme will backfire by prolonging the life of dirty coal-fired power plants.

… Under the proposal, embedded in the Biden administration’s $1.75 trillion spending package, CCS projects would become eligible for an $85 credit for each metric ton of carbon dioxide captured and stored, up from the current $50-per-ton credit that the industry says is too low.

In the current tax credit regime, known as 45Q, CCS has languished. The United States currently has just a dozen operational commercial CCS facilities, along with a handful that have been suspended due to technological or economic problems, according to the Global CCS Institute [Richard Valdmanis, “Proposed U.S. Carbon Capture Credit Hike Cheers Industry, Worries Greens,” Reuters, 2021.11.01].

Summit is hoping to start building its pipeline in 2023 and start shipping carbon dioxide to cash in on those tax credits in 2024. Navigator hopes to start laying pipe in 2024 and phase in operations in 2025.


  1. Richard Schriever 2021-11-01 10:26

    Of course, since CO2 needs to be within a fairly narrow temperature and pressure range to remain liquid, once it gets injected into the warm high pressure depths of the Earth’s crust, it will gasify/expand (I.E., the injection of CO2 is a little like filling up a balloon with spray foam).

  2. DaveFN 2021-11-01 12:02

    “The main purpose is to make sure corn producers have a market for their crops… ”

    Oh, yeah, the ole “We’re looking after your own best interests” hook, oblivious to the larger picture of massive subsidies for corn used primarily to feed cars and animals.

    Midwestern monoculture of monothink.

  3. Mark Anderson 2021-11-01 16:18

    Well at least it gets a segment of the overall population thinking of helping the climate. Even if it’s more neutral on the issue in reality. Every little bit helps.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-11-01 20:24

    Good point, DaveFN: this project seeks to lock in the monoculture that doesn’t produce nourish people or the soil.

  5. ArloBlundt 2021-11-01 22:05

    Well…this is one of those elaborate industrial systems intended to sustain the status quo…not a good deal for farmers who sacrifice access to all their property for a small one time payment.

  6. DaveFN 2021-11-01 23:40

    Mark Anderson

    That’s one point of view, and not one I share. I am skeptical that those (which I regard as hucksters promoting their own self interests) in any way raise public awareness, in this case, an awareness of climate change. More likely than not they on the contrary serve to reduce the seriousness of the issue as secondary to their own agenda, thus minimizing it into obscurity in the minds of those they seek to inhabit.

    “With every attempt to do good, the ignorant and foolish only succeed in doing harm. ‘Tis knowledge crowns endeavor with success.” –Confucius

    There is little if no “knowledge” imparted by these promoters, only self-promotion.

  7. Ed 2021-11-02 07:18

    The meetings in Aberdeen and Redfield were well attended as well, and not one farmer spoke in favor of the project. Meanwhile, our PUC staff in South Dakota has been meeting secretly with officials from Summit Carbon Solutions to rubber stamp their approval of the project when applying for a permit in January of next year. Yet the PUC refuses to meet with affected landowners ahead of the permit meeting. They have already decided. it appears, to jump on board with a private multi-millionaire’s scheme instead of protecting property owners.

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