116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — More than 30 people spoke out Monday night against a carbon dioxide pipeline proposed to run through 36 Iowa counties, including Linn, at an informational meeting where hundreds of people gathered in Cedar Rapids.
When Steve Pisarik, a southern Linn County farmer, asked the crowd of about 250 at Veterans Memorial Building for a show of hands of how many wanted the pipeline on their land, no one raised their hands.
“I’ve got a pipeline currently on my farm and a highway on my farm. And now this one. It’s asking a lot,” Pisarik said. “When this thing breaks — and it will sooner or later — how much will spill out on my ground?”
Navigator CO2 Ventures, a Texas company, is proposing a 1,300-mile underground pipeline that would capture carbon dioxide at Iowa ethanol and fertilizer plants and transport it in pressurized liquid form to a sequestration site in south-central Illinois.
There, the liquid carbon would be injected into rock formations, where it would calcify and be permanently stored. The idea, which scientists say can work, would keep the carbon dioxide out of the air, where it contributes to global warming.
Questions asked during Monday night’s more than three-hour meeting concerned safety, the proposed pipeline route, whether the project brings value to average Iowans and the financial backing of the project.
Answering questions were Navigator executives and Geri Huser, chairwoman of the Iowa Utilities Board, a three-member appointed panel that has the role of permitting pipelines in Iowa.
In response to Pisarik’s question, Stephen Lee, executive vice president of engineering for Navigator, said the proposed pipeline would have 24/7 monitoring by people watching for ruptures or leaks. If a leak is spotted, they would use shut-off valves to minimize damage. How close a shut-off valve is to a leak site would influence how much CO2 could spill out, he said.
“There are a lot of these redundant systems that work together that shut off automatically,” Lee said. “When it comes to the actual pipe itself, we’re looking at up to 2,700 pounds of pressure (the pipe is tested with) to make sure it can stand maximum 2,200 pounds of pressure.”
In February 2020, a pipeline carrying CO2 and hydrogen sulfide ruptured in Mississippi, sickening motorists and residents near the site, the Clarion-Ledger newspaper reported. That pipeline is owned by Denbury Resources, of Texas, which focuses on using CO2 to enhance petroleum recovery, the article reported.
The hydrogen sulfide in the pipeline worsened some of the symptoms, including shortness of breath, nausea and disorientation, an investigation showed.
Brenna Stoops, who lives in Cedar County, told Navigator she’s concerned because she and her husband have received a letter saying the proposed pipeline would go through their 37-acre property, where they want to develop a paintball park.
"We plan to use our land for a business outside of farming,“ Stoops said. ”How would it be determined, value of losses?“
Navigator plans to negotiate with landowners permanent easements for the pipeline and temporary easements for construction. The company will offer three years of compensation for crop loss in the area. Compensation for other losses would be negotiated individually, Navigator said.
“This is the kind of information we need as we engage with you,” said Navigator Chief Operating Officer David Giles. “If you have particular placement for your paintball park, that’s something we can work with. We have the ability to move things around.”
For example, early maps show the pipeline going through a residential area near the College Community School District. Giles said Navigator has heard from the school district and will reroute the pipeline away from that area.
Josh Henik, who farms in southwest Linn County, said he’s heard the Utilities Board will decide whether the project is in the common good. “What direct benefits do we see for the actual citizens of Iowa?” he asked.
Elizabeth Burns-Thompson, vice president of government and public affairs for Navigator, said not only does the pipeline help ethanol plants, which buy Iowa corn, but the project is expected to take 15 million metric tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere.
“This isn’t just negating emissions on one coast or another, it’s emissions in our own backyards,” she said. “We’re cleaning up air in the state of Iowa and not somewhere else.”
The Navigator project is one of two carbon capture pipelines proposed for Iowa. The other, by Summit Carbon Solutions, is a 2,000-mile pipeline through western and north-central Iowa.
Ethanol plant officials hope that by sequestering the greenhouse gases produced at their facilities, they can lower their carbon intensity score and be able to sell biofuel in states, like California and Oregon, with low-carbon fuel standards.
The Navigator project allows the ethanol and fertilizer plants producing carbon dioxide to claim a federal tax credit worth up to $50 a metric ton for permanently stored carbon. The plants would pay Navigator a set rate for however much carbon dioxide they move through the pipeline.
Navigator is holding informational meetings in 36 Iowa counties through early January.
Here are the remaining meetings Navigator CO2 Ventures will be hosting in Eastern Iowa about its proposed carbon sequestration pipeline that would run through these counties:
Cedar County: 6 p.m. Tuesday, Cedar County Fairgrounds (Matthews Building), 220th Street, Tipton
Benton County: Noon Jan. 3, Norway Community Center, 210 South St., Norway
Iowa County: 6 p.m. Jan. 3, Price Creek Event Center, 4709 220th Trail, Amana
Virtual meeting: 6 p.m. Jan. 19
For a schedule of all the informational meetings in the state and to see records filed in this case, go to the Iowa Utilities Board website at iub.iowa.gov.
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