Third carbon pipeline would traverse several eastern Iowa counties

By: - July 5, 2022 3:11 pm

The latest proposed carbon pipeline would transport liquid carbon dioxide from ethanol plants in Cedar Rapids and Clinton to Illinois. (Iowa Utilities Board filing)

A proposed pipeline that would transport liquid carbon dioxide from ethanol plants in Cedar Rapids and Clinton would span about 90 miles in up to five eastern Iowa counties, according to a preliminary map of the project.

Wolf Carbon Solutions, a Canadian company that has operated one of North America’s largest carbon pipelines, wants to hold public meetings in September in the affected counties — the first step to gaining approval from the Iowa Utilities Board to construct the pipeline.

The company announced in January that it had an agreement with Archer-Daniels-Midland Company to transport captured carbon dioxide from ADM ethanol plants to Illinois, where it would be pumped deep into the ground.

It’s the third such proposal in less than a year and is smaller than the others. Summit Carbon Solutions’ project would span about 700 miles in the western and northern parts of the state. Navigator CO2 Ventures wants to lay about 800 miles of pipe that would bisect the state from northwest to southeast.

All of the projects seek to capitalize on federal tax credits that are meant as incentives to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The pipelines have been the subject of fierce debate in affected counties and at the Statehouse, where lawmakers considered legislation this year that might have temporarily or permanently prevented the use of eminent domain to construct the pipelines on cropland and other private property against the landowners’ wishes. Ultimately, the measures did not have enough support to pass.

The projects’ detractors argue that eminent domain should not be allowed because the pipelines do not benefit the general public.

“What it will do is make wealthy people even wealthier and put communities at risk and it does NOT provide any utility for Iowa,” wrote Diane Norden, of North Liberty, in the first objection to the Wolf pipeline that was submitted to the IUB last week.

Wolf’s project has the potential to affect landowners in Cedar, Clinton, Linn, Johnson and Scott counties. The company has asked the IUB to hold public meetings to discuss the project in those counties Sept. 13 to 15, concluding with a virtual meeting online. It’s unclear when the board might set the schedule.

Update on Summit, Navigator pipelines 

The Summit project is the furthest along. The company petitioned for a hazardous liquid pipeline permit in January after holding its public meetings last year. The company is in the process of revising and finalizing the petition, according to recent IUB filings. It has not yet provided a list of land parcels for which it was unable to obtain voluntary easements from landowners — the parcels that might be subject to eminent domain.

The IUB has said it cannot schedule a hearing to consider the project — and those eminent domain requests — until it receives the list. However, the board recently determined Fort Dodge will be the site of that hearing, according to IUB filings.

Navigator CO2 Ventures modified its pipeline route in eastern Iowa in June. (Iowa Utilities Board filing)

Navigator also held its public information meetings last year but in June filed a revised plan that alters its pipeline routes in eastern Iowa and shortened the project’s footprint in the state by about 100 miles. Last week, the board scheduled 13 meetings for August for the affected counties, including three counties that were not included in the original plans: Bremer, Buchanan and Fayette.

The revised Navigator plans eliminate the pipeline’s previously proposed routes through Benton, Cedar, Clinton, Iowa, Linn and Poweshiek counties.

Navigator had intended to petition for its permit in May. It announced in June a major agreement with biofuels producer POET to transport captured carbon dioxide from 18 facilities in three states, including Iowa. The company can file its permit petition 30 days after the final public meeting, which is set for Sept. 21.

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Jared Strong
Jared Strong

Senior reporter Jared Strong has written about Iowans and the important issues that affect them for more than 15 years, previously for the Carroll Times Herald and the Des Moines Register.