January 30, 2022
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (aka Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill), signed in November 2021, allocates huge sums to rebuild and improve US infrastructure – including additional monies for CCS. This is making CO2 capture and sequestration (CSS) a popular business venture.
Now pipeline construction projects can make significant money capturing carbon dioxide and storing it underground. At the time of this writing, four CO2 pipeline projects have been announced in the Midwest: Tallgrass, Summit, Navigator, and the most recently announced Archer Daniels Midland/Wolf Carbon Solutions joint venture. To learn about the Tallgrass and Summit pipelines, check out BOLD Nebraska.
The largest project that affects Illinois is the Navigator CO2 Ventures project, dubbed Heartland
Greenway. 1300 miles of pipeline will bring highly pressurized CO2 from South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois to south-central Illinois for injection deep below the surface. The cost estimate is $2 billion.
What is carbon capture and storage (CCS)?
CCS is defined as the process of capturing carbon dioxide (CO₂) formed during industrial processes and storing it, thereby preventing emission into the atmosphere.
The process of large-scale CCS involves three major steps:
Industrial facilities, such as coal and natural gas power plants, oil and gas refineries, steel mills, and cement plants produce CO2. In the Midwest, it is a common byproduct of ethanol production. Different technologies separate the CO2 from other resulting gases depending on the industrial process.
Once captured and separated, the CO2 is compressed to a “dense phase” or liquid-like state to make it easier to transport and store. Pipelines generally transport CO2 to a suitable site for geological storage. However, some countries use ships and, for smaller amounts of CO2, trucks and trains.
- Permanent Storage (Sequestration). The captured CO2 is injected deep underground where it is expected to be permanently stored.
- Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR). Injecting the captured CO2 stimulates more oil production, leaving the CO2 in the oil-depleted reservoir.
- Conversion. Using the CO2 in synthetic fuels, cement production, chemical production, etc.
In the case of the Navigator and ADM/Wolf projects, CO2 from ethanol is captured at the source. Next, a drying process separates CO2 from water vapor. The resulting CO2 is compressed for transport, using significant amounts of energy.
The Navigator project will traverse 33 counties in Iowa and 6 in Illinois. This impacts hundreds of landowners, whom Navigator will approach for an easement to bury the pipeline on their property.
The Navigator CO2 pipeline will transport the CO2 to an area near Taylorville, IL, for sequestration. Injection wells pump it under high pressure underground. Navigator has not announced future use of the stored CO2.
The threat to land
During the Dakota Access Pipeline construction, landowners experienced damages that persist today. Construction adversely impacts the fertility of cropland for years – even permanently. Navigator is offering a three-year reimbursement program, which may not be enough.
Public hearings on the Navigator project began in November in Iowa. After the frustrations of dealing with the construction and aftermath of the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2015, hundreds of landowners attended these meetings to express their concerns with yet another pipeline.
“When they take soil out, they never put it back together in the same way it came out. The productivity of the soil is going to be changed a great deal. The pH changes, all the micronutrients change, the fungi, and the enzyme mixtures as well. And then they are driving over that area continuously; the compaction with clay created a hardpan.”Iowa landowner Keith Puntenney
Public Safety Concerns
CO2 must be under tremendous pressure to be in liquid form for transport. A pipeline break could be catastrophic. CO2 is an asphyxiant and toxicant. It is odorless and colorless. In high enough concentration, it will kill humans. First responders and hospitals are not prepared for a mass gassing like that which occurred in Satartia, Mississippi in 2020.
Public Money Concerns
The subsidy provided by public monies through the Federal 45Q Tax Credits make this and projects like it, viable. More local/state subsidies will likely be sought.
Road maintenance and repair, time and resources spent by counties throughout the process, cost of pipeline rupture damages, crop loss beyond three years, and more, will be borne by the public.
Since there is no decommissioning plan, the cost may fall on local communities. A pipeline easement could mean massive property value loss and county revenue loss.
Eminent Domain Concerns
Navigator cannot build this pipeline without our public money and our land. This pipeline is not a public utility. The profits go to Navigator and all the other investors. A private company owns the infrastructure. Eminent domain should not be used for private gain.
CO2 pipelines…in the news
Resources (i.e. studies, reports, etc) – under construction