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Lederman’s Carbon Capture Pipeline Shows Bipartisan Corny Cronyism

South Dakota Republican Party chairman Dan Lederman isn’t just working for Iowa Republicans to seize farmers’ land for a carbon dioxide pipeline. Democrats are also in on this money-making schemeMother Jones reports that in November, Summit Carbon Solutions, Lederman’s employer and pipeline proposer, hired Jess Vilsack, son of former Democratic Iowa Governor and repeat USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, onto its legal team:

Jess Vilsack now serves as the general counsel of the venture, which is called Summit Carbon Solutions. Its planned pipeline, dubbed the “Midwest Carbon Express,” would count as the “world’s largest carbon capture and storage project when complete,” the company’s websitestates. So far, the project has drawn investment from venture capital firm Tiger Infrastructure Partners and farm-equipment giant John Deere, Bloomberg Law reports. It will rely on ethanol-friendly policies that Jess’s father has been advocating for his entire political career, from his stint as Iowa governor in the 2000s through his terms as agriculture secretary under Presidents Barack Obama and Joe Biden [Tom Philpott, “USDA Secretary Vilsack’s Son Now Works for a Controversial Ethanol Pipeline Project,” Mother Jones, 2022.01.05].

Where you see “ethanol-friendly policies”, read, “subsidies”:

Summit Carbon Solutions’ business model relies heavily on federal farm and energy policies that are friendly to big agribusiness. Corn-based ethanol is propped up by billions of dollars in annual crop subsidies—administered by the USDA—and by the Renewable Fuel Standard, a federal law that requires the gasoline industry to use 15 billion gallons of ethanol annually. The RFS as currently structured lapses in 2022; Biden’s Environmental Protection agency has statutory authority to set ethanol-use requirements in the years after.

And Summit’s business model appears to depend on the kind of government incentives that the Biden administration in general, and Tom Vilsack in particular, have been pushing to address climate change. The biggest one is the federal tax credit for carbon sequestration, known an Section 45Q, which offers companies a tax break of $50 per ton of metric carbon stored for projects that launch before 2026. The break can be utilized for up to 12 years [Philpott, 2022.01.05].

Permit me to be charitable: perhaps Summit Carbon Solutions exemplifies the bipartisan spirit that can bring this country back together around our common goal of promoting rural economic development and saving the planet. Perhaps Chairman Lederman can talk up this bipartisan spirit as he lobbies South Dakota farmers to support this pipeline. Perhaps Lederman can promote this bipartisan support for the Biden Administration’s climate and infrastructure goals to rally all South Dakotans to a better future of cooperation on more issues.

Or maybe Dan and Jess and all their corny crony friends will just keep putting money in their pockets. Government money, Dan. Government money.


  1. Porter Lansing 2022-01-06 08:15

    Jess Vilsack = Hunter Biden?

  2. Scott Ehrisman 2022-01-06 08:45

    I’m still wondering when people will wake up and realize that Ethanol is just a scam. Corn should be used for food.

  3. larry kurtz 2022-01-06 10:39

    How the construction of this monstrous boondoggle doesn’t release more carbon than it intends to sequester remains a mystery.

    Iowa contributes some 40% of the high-nutrient pollution killing the Gulf of Mexico. Following the release of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s latest measurements Iowa Farmers Union President Aaron Lehman said that state’s Nutrient Reduction Management Strategy is proving to be ineffective in controlling the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. But, Lehman is concerned that without further financial incentives from the Biden administration Republican welfare farmers will simply continue polluting waterways.

  4. Mark Anderson 2022-01-06 15:52

    You have to wonder what they will do with this in thirty years?

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