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.
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.
The pipeline, located in north-central Worth County, was first discovered to have ruptured on Wednesday morning. Since then, clean up crews have managed to remove roughly 18 percent of the petroleum product despite high winds and heavy snowfall, according to a Thursday morning interview with Iowa Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Jeff Vansteenburg. Vansteenburg said that the diesel fuel and contaminated snow are being taken to a facility in Minneapolis, Minnesota while the remaining contaminated soil will be moved to a landfill near Clear Lake, Iowa.
Vansteenburg reported that the diesel fuel did not reach the nearby Willow Creek and wildlife reserve. The cause of the leak is still under investigation.
Magellan Midstream Partners, an Oklahoma-based company, owns the pipeline, which stretches through Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Last October, another pipeline operated by Magellen Midstream Partners ruptured and released anhydrous ammonia, resulting in the evacuation of 23 homes and the death of one person near Decatur, Nebraska. The company was also fined over $45,000 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2010 after roughly 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel leaked into a Milford, Iowa creek.
The Worth County spill is the largest diesel fuel spill since 2010 according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Since 2010, 807 spills have been reported to the administration causing an estimated $342 million in property damages and spewing 3 million gallons of refined oil products into the environment.
President Trump signed executive actions on Tuesday reviving the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. Ed Fallon is the director of Bold Iowa, an organization fighting the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipeline projects. Fallon said, “We’ve been saying all along it’s not a question of if a pipeline will leak, it’s a question of when and where and how bad it will be.”
“According to PHMSA, the agency has 533 inspectors on its payroll. That works out to around one inspector for every 5,000 miles of pipe. A government audit in October  found that that PHMSA is behind on implementing new rules. It has 41 mandates and recommendations related to pipeline safety that await rulemaking.”
Former state Rep. Ed Fallon will conclude his 400-mile hike across Iowa with an Earth Day rally in Des Moines today.
For 39 days, Fallon walked along the path of the proposed Bakken oil pipeline, talking with landowners and activists about their concerns over the environment and property management. Fallon supports an eminent domain bill in the Iowa Legislature that would prevent Energy Transfer Partners from condemning Iowa farmland without consent. He will host an Earth Day Rally to Stop the Pipeline today at the State Capital’s west lawn (People’s Park).
Fallon documented his conversations with Iowans along the pipeline route through a daily blog. He recalled conversations with farmers whose land was repeatedly trespassed by surveyors, residents whose homes would be within a few hundred feet of the pipeline, and town hall meetings where people discussed the issue at length.
In his meetings with Iowans along the pipeline route, Fallon had to counter the sense of inevitability created by pipeline representatives, who frequently met with landowners to inform them that the pipeline construction was unavoidable, and that they should sell their land to the company instead of waiting for it to buy at a lower price through eminent domain. Fallon assured these residents that the company proposing the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, still lacks authority to use eminent domain, and that legislation currently in the House and Senate would prevent them from using it as a ground for construction. While some Iowans have already settled with the oil companies, many are still holding out despite aggressive persuasion.
The rally will take place at 5 p.m., with talks by Fallon, two legislators and two family farmers. There will also be an open mic available for people to share their thoughts.
This week’s On the Radio segment looks at environmental concerns raised by farmers and climate experts related to the Bakken oil pipeline. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.
A proposed crude oil pipeline spanning the state is causing environmental concerns among Iowans.
This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.
Texas-based Dakota Access has officially sought permission from the state Utilities Board to build a pipeline across 18 Iowa counties. The pipeline would carry oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to central Illinois.
Similar projects have led to serious spills, like one that leaked 50,000 gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone River in Montana in January, contaminating the water supply of nearby cities.
Farmers and landowners at informational meetings in December spoke out against the pipeline’s construction, arguing that the project would interfere with drainage systems built to address Iowa’s growing runoff problem. Others noted that such a project may further Americans’ dependence on fossil fuels, at a time when climate experts are urging a shift to clean, renewable energy.
For continuous updates on the Bakken pipeline, visit IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org.
From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Jerry Schnoor.