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ADM’s CO2 pipeline may impact local environment, homeowners 

No CO2 pipelines sign
A mobile sign along Hwy. 151 near Wright Brothers Blvd. on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022. Sierra Club of Iowa placed the sign in protest of the possible CO2 pipeline in Iowa. PHOTO BY JEFF SIGMUND

Ethanol plants produce a large amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) when manufacturing ethanol and other corn derivatives. One proposed method to reduce CO2 in Iowa is to transport the excess CO2, via pipeline, to another location.

According to agri-pulse.com, “The initial project proposed by Summit Carbon Solutions’ Midwest Carbon Express would affect about 3,000 parcels in the state, according to the company. The other two are Navigator CO2 Ventures’ Heartland Greenway pipeline, which is backed by Valero Energy and BlackRock Real Assets, and a newly announced project by ADM and Wolf Carbon Solutions.”

The Des Moines Register,  reported it would span across 36 counties in Iowa extend into Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota and South Dakota.

Kirkwood Community College Professor Fred Ochs commented on the pipeline that ADM, an ethanol manufacturing company located in Cedar Rapids along Highway 30, is building in southeast Cedar Rapids.  

One idea to deal with excess CO2, he said, is to store the CO2 far underground, thousands of feet underground. This would limit the amount of CO2 going into the atmosphere and it would instead be stored, in landfill-like conditions, where it wouldn’t be an issue to us in the future.  

Another idea, would be to sell the CO2 to oil drilling companies. These companies, mostly located in Texas, would use the pressurized CO2 to practice enhanced recovery. Enhanced recovery is a method of oil drilling that injects pressurized CO2 into oil reservoirs beneath the surface. This allows companies to extract more oil than they would have normally and at a faster rate. 

Ochs said since these companies will no doubt look to optimize income, it would be disadvantageous to include proper disposal of the CO2. This would mean they would allow the CO2 to seep into the atmosphere anyway and create the same problem we are having here, somewhere else.  

There is also opposition to the plan along the path of the pipeline. From here in Iowa all the way to Texas, farmers have pleaded with companies not to go through their land when constructing the pipeline. Unfortunately for them, Ochs explained, eminent domain allows the state or national government to acquire privately owned land, at market value, if authorized. This action is typically done with the greater good in mind, but it does negate the voice farmers have in the issue. 

According to the Linn County website, “The Linn County Board of Supervisors signed a letter to the Iowa Utilities Board in opposition to the use of eminent domain by both the Summit Carbon Solutions, LLC and Navigator Heartland Greenway CO2 pipeline projects.”

Image courtesy of Jeff Sigmund | Kirkwood Communiqué

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