More than 160 attend hearing at Small Grand Things
BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
WEST POINT – Four representatives from Navigator CO2 tried to pitch the safety and benefits of a carbon dioxide capture pipeline that’s planned to run through Lee County.
The pipeline has been designed to run 50 miles through Lee County from the northwest side to the southeast corner where it will cross the Mississippi River and progress through Illinois to a capture center in south central Illinois.
According to the Heartland Greenway website, “carbon capturing and sequestration (CCS) technology captures carbon emissions produced by agricultural processes before they reach the atmosphere. The captured greenhouse gases are then processed and compressed into a liquid form that can be safely transported to a sequestration site, where the CO2 is securely and permanently injected approximately a mile underground beneath thick layers of rock with continued monitoring. After injection, the CO2 will remain trapped beneath the caprock and begin to dissolve and mineralize.”
The space the carbon will be injected into is in Mt. Simon, Illinois and officials told the crowd of about 160 that had piled into Small Grand Things in West Point Wednesday night that it would take 100s of years for the carbon to calcify as it mixes with the water between two rock shelves.
But many residents in attendance were frustrated with the damage done by previous pipeline installations including the Dakota Access Pipeline, that was installed in 2015.
Esther Tweedy said her family’s farm was “molested” by the crude oil pipeline.
Tweedy is not a landowner but her brother is and he farms land their parents bought in 1946.
“He battled with Dakota Access because they wanted to tear down trees that my father planted in 1946,” Tweedy said.
“He just asked them to move the pipeline and they wouldn’t do it and luckily the IUB listened to his pleas and told them they needed to go under their roots, which we assume they did. But as my brother said, just because there is no sign of molestation, does not mean it hasn’t occurred.”
Tweedy said she felt like her whole family was intimidated, threatened, and misled by Dakota Access and she didn’t want that to happen again with the Heartland pipeline. The proposed pipeline has a similar path to the Dakota pipeline.
Easements for construction would be anywhere from 50 to 150 feet depending on the size of pipeline to be used. The Heartland carbon pipeline would have pipe that ranges from 6 to 24 inches in diameter. The pipeline will be buried a minimum of 5-feet underground.
Navigator officials are required by law, as was NuStar Pipeline in October when they met at the same location to pitch their addition to anhydrous ammonia pipelines in the county, to hold the hearing prior to any negotiation for land rights or for petitioning the IUB for permits.
One landowner asked if the IUB was going to not allow any carbon to flow through the pipes until all landowner issues had been resolved.
He said if that was the case, issues that occurred during the Dakota Access installation could be resolved because the company would be held up from producing until all land issues had been corrected.
Geri Huser, chairman of the IUB, who moderated the hearing said she couldn’t comment on issues of the past installation because the agreements for easements and restoration are between the landowner and the company.
But she said the county hires an independent consultant to oversee all landowner issues. That inspector is paid for by the pipeline company and is hired without consultation with the pipeline company.
Lee County Supervisor Ron Fedler told the crowd that the county had good experience with Chippewa Resources, who was the inspector for the Dakota Access.
“We hire a private company to protect the landowners’ rights. That company then bills us for that process and we turn that bill over to the pipeline company and they reimburse the county, so the county taxpayers do not pay for any of that inspection provided for by the county,” Fedler said.
“But that inspection company is independent of the pipeline company. It’s not something associated with them at all.”
Fedler said the county has already interviewed three companies to be the inspector for this pipeline and the anhydrous ammonia pipeline. Fedler asked when the IUB suggested the inspector should be hired.
Huser told Fedler the county should hire that inspector as soon as possible.
Other landowners asked if there were better ways to capture the carbon, what the value of the carbon is, and why previous pipeline pathways can’t be used rather than taking additional easements.
Elizabeth Burns-Thompson, Vice President of Government and Public Affairs told the group the pipeline is one of the most contemporary and well-researched scientific mechanisms to reduce the carbon footprint of fertilizer plants in the country.
She said other companies are competing to move carbon through pipelines and it’s a system that the government has initiated credits to encourage.
Navigator has already reached an agreement with Iowa Fertilizer Plant to move their carbon off-site. The pipeline is also working to pull carbon from Big River Resources, an ethanol producer in West Burlington.
The pipeline will run about 1,300 miles with 900 miles in Iowa across 36 counties.
Anyone wishing to comment on the proposed pipeline can file comments as part of the IUB docket online at https://iub.iowa.gov/online-services/open-docket-comment-form. The docket number for the Heartland Pipeline is HLP-2021-0003.