Farmers continue to object to carbon capture pipelines

Via Flickr.

Eleanor Hildebrandt | April 8, 2022

More than 100 landowners gathered at the Iowa Capitol last week, speaking against three proposed carbon capture pipelines in the state.

The speakers went as far as asking legislators to add amendments to ban the use of eminent domain permanent. Environmental activists joined the group on March 29, focused on stopping the companies from taking private farmland to build sequestration pipelines. Some speakers complained about not being able to meet with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds to discuss the pipelines. Chair of the Calhoun County Democratic Party Emma Schmit told Iowa Public Radio that landowners rights are uniting rural residents.

“Everybody across the political spectrum believes in the fact that a private corporation shouldn’t be able to take your property for their own benefit without giving anything back,” she said.

Carbon sequestration pipelines aim to capture carbon dioxide emissions in an industrial process and store them underground. The goal of such projects is to curb climate change. Currently, three companies have plans to put carbon capture pipelines in Iowa: Archer-Daniel-Midlands (ADM), Summit Carbon Solutions and Navigator CO2 Ventures. The trio all plan to pipe carbon captured in the Midwest United States deep underground.

Iowa could see pipeline construction across state in May

Via Iowa Capital Dispatch.

Eleanor Hildebrandt | January 7, 2022

Navigator CO2 Ventures plans to formally petition Iowa in May for permission to build a liquid carbon dioxide pipeline across the state.

The pipeline would cross 36 of Iowa’s 99 counties and venture into a handful of other Midwestern state. The Texas-based company’s plans will cost upwards of $3 billion and would lay 900 miles of steel pipe in Iowa, according to Iowa Capital Dispatch. Navigator will need to receive permission from the Iowa Utilities Board prior to breaking ground. Navigator’s plan looks to provide Midwest customers with carbon capture and storage.

The company is close to ending its informational public meetings series. The meetings have been held in various counties to garner support from Iowans and to explain to communities what they can expect from the pipeline. Once the meetings end, Navigator can petition the state for permission to build. The three-member Iowa Utilities Board would have to decided that the pipeline serves “a public convenience and necessity” based on Iowa law prior to giving the company permission.

Iowans at various meetings have voiced concerns, including at a recent Ames meeting where the Dispatch reported residents were concerned about eminent domain and the potential hazard of pipeline leaks. Residents of Linn County were unhappy with the proposal in early December 2021, according to Iowa Public Radio.

There are a few more informational meetings before the company can petition. Meeting information can be found on the Iowa Utilities Board website.

Public input opportunities begin in Iowa on proposed carbon pipeline

Via Iowa Capital Dispatch.

By Eleanor Hildebrandt | December 1, 2021

Iowa residents voiced concerns at the Iowa Utilities Board held the first public meeting regarding the Navigator CO2 Venture’s pipeline plan on Nov. 30 in Lyon County.

Public meetings will continue to be held throughout the state to gage how Iowans feel about the potential pipeline that will go through Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Illinois if it’s approved. Within the state of Iowa, dozens of counties will be impacted by the proposed carbon capture and sequestration system. Navigator CO2 Venture’s looks to provide Midwest customers with carbon capture and storage.

Lyon County residents were unhappy with the proposal, according to Iowa Public Radio, and united against the company. In recent months, the Iowa chapter of the Sierra Club has come out against the plan alongside other environmental groups.

This proposal comes alongside a carbon sequestering pipeline idea from Heartland Greenway. The second proposal would be in similar state to Navigator’s, but Iowa would be impacted the most by the pipeline if approved, because it cuts diagonally across the state.

There will also be public meetings starting next week regarding the Heartland proposal as well. The meetings are in a variety of counties at different times. Residents can show up to as many as they’d like to voice concerns or support.

Iowa farmers to see carbon capture pipeline

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Eleanor Hildebrandt | September 20, 2021

Some Iowa landowners recently received notification that a new carbon capture pipeline wants to stretch across their land.

Summit Carbon Solutions, a company that looks to decrease greenhouse gas emissions through the permanent storage of carbon dioxide, intends to build a 710-mile pipeline. According to The Des Moines Register, the pipeline would cross 30 counties within Iowa. The company is headquartered in Ames, Iowa. The pipeline intends to capture emitted carbon dioxide in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, and the Dakotas.

The pipeline would compress the gas into liquid form and would be the longest-ranging carbon sequestration pipeline. The plan would push the liquefied carbon emissions and transport them to North Dakota to permanently sequester them a mile underground. The pipeline would transport these chemicals nearly 2,000 miles.

The process of carbon-capture pipelines has issues, like leaking issues that can cause individuals near the pipeline to get sick. Iowa farmers are also concerned about the impact the pipeline could have on Midwestern soil. Some Iowans are also questioning the effectiveness of a pipeline like Summit’s to capture emissions.

Companies propose carbon-capture pipelines, activists remain unsure

Via Flickr.

Eleanor Hildebrandt | July 29, 2021

A new pipeline could be built across the Midwest.

Two companies are looking to build a pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois, but they plan yo utilize a carbon-capture technology at ethanol refineries and moving it to places it can be buried underground. Environmental activists are divided on the issue.

President Joe Biden and some Republican law makers support this type of pipeline. The federal government also has plans to solidify this option by offering tax credits for every metric ton of carbon dioxide sequestered by a company.

The Environmental Protection Agency said storing of carbon dioxide is safe if companies do it carefully. There have not been any fatalities or injuries of workers in the carbon sequestering process.

Brad Crabtree from the Great Plaines Institute told the Associated Press carbon-capture pipelines are a potential way to bridge partisan divides while helping with climate change mitigation.

The process works by injecting the carbon dioxide in its liquefied state, allowing it to become rock. Then, it eventually hardens into minerals or it can dissolve.

Environmentalists remain concerned, however. Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network, Carolyn Raffensperger, told the AP she doesn’t know if the technology can be trusted and denounced carbon-capture methods as a climate solution.

The proposed pipeline will go through South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska alongside North Dakota and Illinois if it’s approved.

Reynolds’ carbon panel omits environmental groups, activists

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Eleanor Hildebrandt | June 24, 2021

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds appointed a task force for carbon sequestration on Tuesday; the group is void of representatives and activists from environmental groups who study the removal of the greenhouse gas.

The task force will identify and examine different strategies for the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere that will be beneficial for Iowa’s economy and long-term sustainability efforts. Current members include representatives from the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, agricultural companies, state agencies, and biofuel interests. Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig is the vice chairman of the group. The task force was created by an executive order.

In a statement, Reynolds said she hopes the task force will have policy recommendations prepared for next year’s legislative session. She said Iowa is in a strong position to take part in the growing nationwide goal for a more carbon-free economy, specifically pointing out the state’s existing supply chain.

When asked by Iowa Capital Dispatch why there were no environmental groups on the task force, Reynolds spokesman Pat Garrett said any person or group is able to apply for a spot on the working group. The group is currently made up of 20 members.

The Power of Food: Create a Thriving Ecosystem in Your Backyard

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Mackinzee Macho | February 26, 2021

Mackinzee Macho is an undergraduate student and Senior Program Manager in Human and Ecological Systems Transformations for the Foresight Lab. The Foresight Lab is a think-tank that shifts culture toward social, economic, and ecological well-being through consulting. This series, “The Power of Food,” will explore topics like carbon sequestration and regenerative farming.

In just under two months, spring seedlings can be planted outdoors. Now is the time to begin planning what you want to plant in your garden. Vegetables, herbs, flowers, and fruits can be used to create a thriving garden, but the real opportunity is to use regenerative gardening practices to promote healthy soil and nutritious plants. 

Carbon gardening maximizes your soil’s sequestration and carbon storage potential through regenerative and sustainable agricultural management practices. These practices include using natural fertilizer and integrated pest management. Carbon gardening is better for plants, soil, and surrounding ecosystems since it promotes a healthier soil environment. In contrast, synthetic chemicals from inorganic fertilizers and pesticides can leach into nearby waterways, burn your plants, and damage the soil ecosystems that are crucial to plant health. The choices are between positive methods that build health and vibrancy, or degenerative practices that cause harm.

The relationship between soil, microbes, and plants – all under ideal conditions – sequester carbon. When soil is healthy and soil organic carbon levels are high, it has the structure to capture carbon, enhance water retention capacity, and build higher fertility rates. Soil organic carbon is determined by the growth and death of plant roots along with the transfer of carbon-rich nutrients from plant roots to soil microbes. The plants supply fungi with carbon-rich sugars which allows the fungi to produce integral nutrients for plant health and growth. As organic matter increases – which includes microbes, plant roots, and stocks – carbon is stored within them. You can reverse the effects of climate change, harvest delicious food, and feel good about boosting the health of your soil, and your family.

Using compost and native weeds to attract pest-consuming insects maintain soil health. These practices restore and regenerate soil, sequester carbon, and increase your yield. Soil that is full of microbes and soil organic matter improves its wellbeing and the food it produces. Healthy soil creates healthy people and a healthy environment. When we nourish our soil, we nourish ourselves and the environment.  

The Power of Food: We Can Reverse the Climate Emergency by Working Together

Via Flickr

Mackinzee Macho | February 12, 2021

Mackinzee Macho is an undergraduate student and Senior Program Manager in Human and Ecological Systems Transformations for the Foresight Lab. The Foresight Lab is a think-tank that shifts culture toward social, economic, and ecological well-being through consulting. This series, The Power of Food, will explore topics like carbon sequestration and regenerative farming.

Collective action can alter the course of history. The climate emergency is intimidating, but together we can change our behavior to reverse it. The science is clear: the Earth’s average temperature is rising at rates our modern civilization has never seen before. Extreme weather events are occurring more often and with greater intensity, climate change will only become worse with the degradation of our ecosystem from the continual release of greenhouse gases. It took us decades to get into this situation, but we do not need decades to dig ourselves out.  

Recently, President Biden signed multiple executive orders that accelerate action in the face of the climate emergency. Rejoining the Paris climate accord, increasing offshore wind usage, and ending reliance on fossil fuels are key, but imagine the impact if each of us added our individual local actions to the effort.

Collective action and a call for sustainability will further combat the emergency. We can harness the potential of our soils to sequester carbon. Sequestration pumps carbon out of our atmosphere into the ground along with improving soil and plant health. Citizens can sequester carbon by gardening and composting. Growing one’s own food is healthier for our soil, the Earth, and ourselves. Placing our food and other compostable waste into piles reduces waste in the landfill and improves soil and plant health when applied. These simple steps when performed collectively can offset emissions and reduce climate change impacts.

Choosing greener energy, regeneratively grown foods, and responsibly sourced materials creates a market for them. Citizens must urge producers, vendors, farmers, and more to evolve into regenerative and sustainable practices. If we are driven by hope in the face of what seems impossible, nothing can stop us.

Experts weigh in on carbon sequestration in soil at COP 21

Hans ? presents at a conference focused on agriculture and soil health on Thursday, Deceember 10, 2015 as part of COP 21 in Paris France. (KC McGinnis/CGRER)
Hans Herren presents at a conference focused on agriculture and soil health on Thursday, December 10, 2015 as part of COP 21 in Paris France. (KC McGinnis/CGRER)

Nick Fetty | December 10, 2015

PARIS – Experts from around the world weighed in on the importance of carbon sequestration and other sustainable agricultural practices during a conference Thursday morning.

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2015 “the International Year of Soil” which was the focus of the “Agroeology and Soil Solutions” conference in the Green Zone at COP 21. The event featured a four-person panel with each participant having expertise in a different aspect of agriculture or soil science. Before the panel gave their individual presentations, the approximately 50 attendees were shown a four-minute documentary produced by the Center for Food Safety and narrated by food journalist Michael Pollan.

“In one handful of soil there are more organisms than there are humans on earth and we are only beginning to understand the vast network of beings right beneath our feet,” Pollan said in the film’s opening scene.

The short film discussed the impact of over-farming and other unsustainable practices that remove carbon from the soil and release it into the atmosphere, contributing to rising temperatures and other effects of climate change.

Hans Herren – President and CEO of the Washington D.C.-based Millennium Institute – was the first panelist to present. Herren holds a PhD in Biological Control from the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland and part of his presentation focused on the science behind carbon sequestration as he emphasized the need for dietary changes to improve soil health.

“If you don’t change the diet farmers can’t change the way they produce. People’s behavior in terms of diet is essential,” he said.

Kristine Nichols – Chief Scientist for the Pennsylvania-based Rodale Institute – was next to take the podium as she focused on research her center had done on a farm in Ohio. Nichols – who holds a PhD in Soil Science from the University of Maryland – said the carbon problem can actually be part of the solution.

“Really what we’ve got is a carbon problem and the problem is that we don’t have carbon in our soil.”

Nichols also addressed the negative effects of synthetic fertilizer and ways in which agriculture has become less efficient over the past half century.

“It takes more synthetic nitrogen fertilizer now to grow a ton of grain than it used to take in 1960,” she said. “Our systems are becoming far more inefficient because we’re not utilizing the biology.”

Nichols concluded her presentation with an interactive demonstration of the ability of different soils to retain water, showing that healthy soil can more easily retain moisture and filter excess liquid down to groundwater. Water retention not only helps soils to be more healthy but it also mitigates erosion and nutrient run off, both of which are concerns for farmers in Iowa.

The last of the panelists to speak was Precious Phiri, founder of the Zimbabwe-based EarthWisdom Consulting Co. Phiri focused on ways that grasslands, waterways, and livelihoods can be improved for African farmers and ranchers through better livestock management practices.

“We depend on livestock to get back our grasslands,” she said, adding “Overgrazing is an issue of time and not numbers.”

Phiri pointed out several examples in her homeland where proper grazing and agricultural techniques led to more permanent vegetation and waterways in the arid region.

The event concluded with a short question and answer session. During this time Nichols addressed the need for good research and the dissemination of information as well as strong policy that can lead to improved conditions.

“We needs to provide consistent and good information to people,” she said, adding “It is policies on the departmental level that would be beneficial.”