116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Home / Opinion / Guest Columnists
Use new carbon technology, not pipelines
Jeff and Micki Reints
Mar. 28, 2023 9:38 am
We are a third and fourth generation family farm in northeast Iowa that relies heavily on the ethanol industry for a strong market for our corn. We are highly disappointed in the so-called "study” commissioned by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association advocating CO2 pipelines with outcome designed to benefit the private pipeline companies of Summit, Navigator and Wolf. The study ignored other options for addressing the problem at hand. Most troubling is that the so-called "study" assumes that the Iowans cannot innovate to find ways to protect their land, farms, and communities while also doing the right thing for the environment. Iowans are better than that!
In particular, the "study" ignores other options for the CO2. Instead of paying billions to hopefully sequester and bury CO2, why not upgrade it to new valuable products like green methanol, DME (a net-zero diesel fuel replacement), and sustainable jet fuel. These “bolt on” to current ethanol plants and other CO2 emitters. Some of these technologies are mature and some are currently being proven, but they are all better options than the unproven pipelines that will place permanent scars across the most fertile farmland in Iowa. These options bring significant new revenues to ethanol plants and their surrounding farms and communities. It is estimated that an average ethanol plant can add $160 million per year of new revenue by upgrading their CO2 emissions to green methanol. A green methanol solution qualifies for basically all the same tax credits and government incentives as the pipeline. The largest freight shipper in the world, Maersk, will need 2 billion gallons of green methanol to power their fleet of ships by 2030. Currently the world only produces 170 million gallon. What an opportunity for Iowa agriculture and ethanol to be a part of this demand for energy for the future. Combine this with cropping practices such as cover crops, notill, striptill, and reduced tillage, we can generate a net negative carbon score for ethanol. What a win-win solution.
You must not take ingenuity out of the equation. These new technologies will be in place long before a hazardous CO2 pipeline is finished. Just think of a pipeline to nowhere that is replaced by Iowans who did the do diligence to provide the best solution to CO2 emissions and at the same time provide another renewable fuel to this market for net zero fuels. All without a hazardous pipeline endangering our land and communities.
The Iowa House just passed HF 565 (restricting CO2 pipelines to 90 percent voluntary easements before eminent domain can be exercised) by a large majority, and a Des Moines register poll shows 78 percent of Iowans appose eminent domain for the CO2 pipelines
I ask any landowner who is considering signing a pipeline easement to give time for these new technologies to blossom. CapCO2 Solutions is one company that has technologies of green methanol. We strongly object to the assumption that the people of Iowa are not able to innovate to meet new challenges while still protecting their land, farms, and communities.
Jeff and Micki Reints are corn farmers in Butler and Bremer County.
Opinion content represents the viewpoint of the author or The Gazette editorial board. You can join the conversation by submitting a letter to the editor or guest column or by suggesting a topic for an editorial to firstname.lastname@example.org