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ADM plans third Iowa carbon capture pipeline
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ADM plans third Iowa carbon capture pipeline

construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline

A scene during construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

ADM announced Tuesday it wants to build a carbon dioxide pipeline from its plants in Cedar Rapids and Clinton to a site in Illinois where it will sequester the greenhouse gases.

This is the third proposed CO2 pipeline for Iowa, which, if approved by state regulators, would add thousands of miles of underground pipe in Eastern Iowa.

ADM and Wolf Carbon Solutions announced Jan. 11 they have signed a letter of intent to build a 350-mile pipeline to transport liquefied CO2 from ethanol and cogeneration facilities in Cedar Rapids and Clinton to ADM’s already-operational sequestration site in Decatur, Ill.

The pipeline would be capable of transporting 12 million tons of CO2 per year, which includes CO2 from the ADM plants as well as “spare capacity to serve other third-party customers looking to decarbonize across the Midwest and Ohio River Valley.”

“Our organizations offer a great combination of complementary skills and experience — ADM with more than 10 years of experience owning and operating CO2 sequestration wells, and the Wolf Carbon Solutions team with expertise in owning and operating carbon capture facilities and pipeline transportation systems, including North America’s largest third-party CO2 pipeline in Alberta, Canada,” said Wolf Carbon Solutions President David Schmunk in a statement.

At ADM’s Decatur site, the company has stored more than 3.5 million metric tons of CO2 a mile and half under the surface, the company reported.

Carbon sequestration is a relatively new idea that involves injecting liquid CO2 into rock formations underground. The technology is intended to reduce greenhouse gases that can cause climate change.

The liquid can be pumped into depleted oil or gas reservoirs or into aquifers with water too saline to drink. These horizontal pockets are beneath layers of non-permeable stone, such as shale, that keeps the CO2 under pressure and from returning to the surface. In some cases, the carbon dioxide may turn into minerals and become part of the rock.

Companies that sequester carbon are eligible for federal tax credits of up to $50 per metric ton. By reducing the carbon footprint of ethanol production, these companies hope to make the fuel more competitive in states like California with low carbon fuel standards.

Navigator, a Texas company, is proposing a 1,300-mile pipeline that would pass through 36 Iowa counties, including Linn, Benton, Cedar, Delaware and Iowa, capturing carbon dioxide at ethanol and fertilizer plants. The gas would be put under pressure, turned into liquid and piped to a site in south-central Illinois — near the ADM site.

Summit Carbon Solutions is planning a 2,000-mile C02 pipeline through Iowa to North Dakota. The company announced in December it has started drilling test wells in three places in the Williston Basin in North Dakota.

The Iowa Utilities Board would have to approve any pipeline projects, including the potential step of using eminent domain to force the sale of easements to the companies

On Jan. 10, the Linn County Board of Supervisors signed a letter opposing use of eminent domain for CO2 pipelines.

Many landowners on the pipelines’ proposed routes have decried the projects at informational meetings around the state since November. Linn County residents expressed concerns at a Dec. 6 meeting about eminent domain, safety of the pipelines and whether the companies should get tax credits for projects that may make money for the owners but not help Iowans or the environment.

Some environmental groups have said the pipelines distract from better ways to reduce greenhouse gases.

“Carbon capture and storage is an unproven and unsound technology that will do nothing to mitigate the climate crisis,” Food & Water Watch Senior Iowa Organizer Emma Schmit said in a statement after the ADM announcement. “It’s an industry scam and distraction from the real work of reforming our agricultural and energy sectors to combat the looming climate emergency.”

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