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Navigator offers payments to Illinois county
Deal for ‘assistance’ offered to county that banned pipelines
By Kari Lydersen - Energy News Network
Feb. 13, 2023 6:00 am
The company seeking to build a carbon dioxide pipeline through five states including Iowa offered to pay as much as $19 million for cooperation from an Illinois county that last fall passed a two-year moratorium on such pipelines, according to a draft agreement posted online by pipeline opponents.
A draft agreement that was to be discussed at the McDonough County, Ill., Board Law and Legal Committee meeting on Feb. 6 appears to be the company’s latest attempt to build the pipeline despite significant opposition from landowners, officials in multiple counties and the Illinois Farm Bureau.
Navigator CO2 Ventures’ Heartland Greenway has not been able to obtain enough leases for the pipeline’s route across Illinois or for a carbon sequestration site in the state, and on Jan. 20 it withdrew its application for eminent domain powers in Illinois after regulators said it was incomplete.
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The draft agreement with McDonough County offered the county $20,000 per mile of pipeline per year for up to 30 years, with a $630,000 annual cap. The draft says the payment would be contingent on the county acting “in good faith” to “provide positive assistance” to the company, including obtaining road access and rights of way on county land.
Last fall, the county intervened in the eminent domain proceedings before the Illinois Commerce Commission, noting that the pipeline construction could affect emergency responders and farmland. A week later, the county passed its pipeline moratorium.
“Navigator will clearly stop at nothing to move forward with its project,” said Central Illinois resident Pam Richart, lead organizer with the Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines. “I believe that Navigator is hoping they can make deals with local governments like McDonough County in order to buy them off.”
McDonough County board member Joe Erlandson said he could not comment, but confirmed the county board was scheduled to discuss the draft agreement Feb. 6.
TriState Public Radio reported this week that McDonough County leaders turned down Navigator’s offer at the meeting.
The Illinois Times reported in October that Navigator had made a similar pitch to officials in Montgomery County, offering to pay up to $1.5 million a year for up to 30 years. No agreement has been instated there, but the issue has been on monthly board meeting agendas for the past few months.
Navigator did not respond to a request for comment about the draft agreements with counties. In a Jan. 20 news release, Navigator framed the withdrawal of its petition for eminent domain as a positive development, and announced plans to refile.
“To date, Navigator has successfully negotiated with landowners to secure hundreds of miles of pipeline right of way easements, thousands of acres of storage pore space, and the necessary well-sites to accommodate the initial injection capacity,” Navigator said.
“Given the successful progression of permitting and growing commercial commitments, Navigator will be filing a revised permit with the Illinois Commerce Commission before the end of February as a reflection of that expanded scope. With this new permit, Navigator will accelerate the development of additional permanent storage locations across multiple counties in central Illinois, which is a proven home to some of the best geology in the world for carbon sequestration.”
Navigator originally filed a proposal with the Illinois Commerce Commission in July explaining its plan to collect carbon dioxide and sequester it a mile below ground in Christian County, Ill. It does not need the commission’s approval for sequestration, though it would need Environmental Protection Agency and other permits.
As Navigator faced opposition and apparently had difficulty securing enough leases for sequestration “pore space” in Christian County, it added Sangamon and Montgomery counties as possible terminal points for the pipeline, filings with the commerce commission show. In a Nov. 2 filing, Navigator said it had obtained about 50 percent of the pore space needed for sequestration.
A 2011 Illinois state law regarding carbon dioxide pipelines mandates that regulators must make a decision on applications like Navigator’s request for eminent domain within 11 months of filing, which would mean this June. Opponents have argued that Navigator has not revealed enough information about its plans or its impact studies to allow a decision to be made by that date.
Navigator’s proposed $3.2 billion, 1,300-mile proposed pipeline would connect to ethanol and fertilizer plants in South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa before reaching Illinois.
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