Carbon pipeline company makes its pitch in northwest Iowa

Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 5:59 PM CST
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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - A carbon capture pipeline company now thinks it can gain approval to build in Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska by next summer, with construction to begin shortly thereafter. But, not everyone is on board.

It’s a process proponents say could have a real impact on climate change. But, to finish the project, a pipeline company is staring down the reality of using eminent domain.

That is, taking and paying for land without the owner’s consent. Summit Carbon Solutions, one of the pipeline companies, made part of its final pitch during a stop in northwest Iowa on Wednesday.

“Nearly 3 billion gallons of ethanol committed across these 32 plants. That’s about 10 million tons of CO2 per year that will capture and store,” said Jim Pirolli, the chief commercial officer for Summit Carbon Solutions.

Right now, the Quad County Corn Processors release about 90% of its carbon into the atmosphere. That carbon is generated as a byproduct of processing corn into ethanol, cow feed and other products.

If the pipeline is built, the facility will have no carbon released.

“This is going to bring our carbon intensity of our fuel down so that some of it will actually be lower than the emissions from an electric vehicle. And it really just brings more to our bottom line allows us to have a good bid for our farmers for the corn that they produce.

The proposed pipeline goes right through a piece of Carole Hennings’ property near Highway 20 in rural Woodbury County. Hennings says she’ll never agree to a voluntary easement, citing safety and eminent domain concerns.

“But they need to look at the scientific facts of a CO2 pipeline. Because CO2, once it starts to leak, it can spread 1500 feet in four minutes,” said Hennings.

Hennings also believes it could open up a “Pandora’s box” when it comes to eminent domain, which has traditionally been used for public utilities, not for private pipelines.

And, as a reminder, Summit Carbon Solutions isn’t the only company proposing the construction of a pipeline in our area. Navigator CO2 ventures also seeks to build a pipeline across five states in the Midwest including Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Neither company has been granted a permit to build by the Iowa Utilities Board. And, even if the IUB gives the “green light,” litigation against both projects is expected.