CO2 pipeline promoters’ letter to landowners

Monday, September 27, 2021

Summit Carbon Solutions (SCS) plans a CO2 pipeline through Iowa to North Dakota where the liquified CO2 will be injected and stored underground. A series of affected landowner fast-track “informational” meetings conducted by SCS and an Iowa Utilities Board rep are under way, including one in Cherokee last Wednesday evening.

In August, he following letter was sent to affected landowners by SCS:

Dear Landowner:

The purpose of this letter is to remind you about Summit Carbon Solutions’ (SCS) upcoming information meetings. The notifications you or your neighbors received are required before SCS’ CO2 sequestration project, Midwest Carbon Express, can be considered for approval by the Iowa Utility Board (IUB).

We urge you to: actively engage in one or more of those information meetings, ensure that the unique issues involved in this project are thoroughly vetted, take time to fully understand the economic, safety, and environmental trade-offs before making your decisions about the SCS proposal.

The carbon capture and storage project in its totality will require the following three processes. First the carbon will be captured, compressed, cleaned, and converted to a pressurized liquid solution. Secondly, it will need to be maintained as a liquid and transported through a series of interconnected pipelines to the storage location. Third, the liquid CO2 will be accumulated and transported by the pipeline and injected into underground storage locations.

Information Meeting Notification - On August 16th you were issued a letter from SCS informing you of their proposal to construct carbon capture and storage projects in and around your community. The letter is the legally required notification of public informational meetings regarding this project. These meetings are also intended to inform you about their approach for collecting CO2, compressing it into liquid form and transporting it by pipeline to a permanent storage location.

Easements - To build their pipeline SCS will need to access easements through properties you may own. The traditional value benchmark for public utility easements has been that easements provide the infrastructure needed to access “public convenience and necessity” resources such as electricity, communication, or other power sources. Public convenience and necessity are less apparent when the infrastructure investments provide value to a few private interests. In those cases, the easement value offered to landowners should not be based on legacy models that no longer align with current benchmarks.

New Opportunities - But New Risks – The ethanol industry provides significant value to rural Iowa. Carbon capture and liquid CO2 pipelines are being suggested to offer a similar opportunity. However, there may be new and significantly unfamiliar risks that need to be identified and mitigated.

CO2 is an asphyxiant which displaces oxygen and impairs cognitive ability. If accidentally released, it does not rise and disburse as does natural gas or propane. CO2 settles, and without wind, simply collects in low areas. CO2 as stated in an article which can be located at Gassing Satartia: Carbon Dioxide Pipeline Linked To Mass Poisoning | HuffPost posits that CO2 pipelines pose threats that few are aware of and fewer know how to handle. CO2, if contaminated with even small amounts of water is extremely corrosive to steel pipelines. Research suggests that current commonly used carbon capture techniques are particularly likely to result in liquid CO2 with corrosive quantities of water in it. Carbon capture also requires energy gobbling compression stations.

Although the pipeline company responsible for the Satartia CO2 escape had filed and posted the required CO2 hazardous material warnings, The article suggests the local EMT’s had no idea what it was and indicated that apparently no information or training had been provided for them or the hospitals involved in treating citizens overcome by the CO2 release. It was reported that even EMT response vehicles’ engines died, while trying to respond, due to the lack of oxygen needed for them to operate.

Who will be responsible for funding all the necessary new training and equipment needed to mitigate disastrous events along the pipeline should they occur? This appears to be a legitimate issue of concern.

Next Steps

You are encouraged to participate in an SCS information session, become knowledgeable, and assert your thoughtful viewpoint in a respectful manner.

2) You may be asked to sign a lease or an easement agreement which provides SCS access to and through your land. You should understand the value your land provides and perhaps consider engaging an attorney. Most importantly you should know your options before you sign.

3) Whether or not an easement through your property is being requested by SCS, we urge you to become involved. As stated above, there appear to be significant safety, medical, and emergency response issues that should be addressed.

Although carbon capture and CO2 sequestration may add value to our agricultural system, the process being proposed by SCS appears to be new.

If these risks can be safely addressed by SCS, the developer, then the economic solutions of how best to “rent” your underground property rights to a private developer (no different than renting your land to a cropping tenant, a wind farm, or producing a crop for yourself) should be thoroughly investigated. We should work together to ensure that it is constructed safely, is maintained adequately, and the value generated is shared appropriately.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: