A 1,200 miles proposed carbon capture and storage pipeline network would benefit ethanol producers across the Midwest as it will carry their emissions down from North Dakota to underground storage in Illinois. Environmental groups and landowners, however, are opposing the project.
They doubt the environmental benefits saying the pipeline could extend the life of fossil-fuel power plants in the Upper Midwest. Some landowners are also wary of safety because of potential leaks. There are chances of a possible pitched battle as the project seeks construction permits.
The carbon capture pipeline system is developed by Navigator CO2 Ventures in partnership with BlackRock Global Energy & Power Infrastructure Fund. It will stretch through Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Illinois, connecting refineries along the way, and will end in a sequestration site in North Dakota.
The project is expected to be the world’s largest carbon capture and storage project. The operations are about to start by 2024. Both the pipeline and underground storage projects are also expected to attract billions of dollars, spurring construction jobs.
They are also deemed to advance a technology crucial to achieving a 2050 goal of net-zero carbon dioxide emissions.
Carbon Capture And Storage Project Opposition
Even though the project is advertised as a solution for the emissions of the refineries, the environmental organization Sierra Club is concerned whether carbon capture could limit all emissions of hard-to-decarbonize industries. It sees the technology as prolonging fossil-fuel use.
“We’ve seen a number of instances in which coal plants that are otherwise slated for retirement have had the process slowed or halted because third parties believe that subsidies for CCS will rise to the extent that post-combustion capture becomes cost-effective,” said Jeremy Fisher – a strategist at Sierra Club.
“All sides win. You significantly reduce carbon emissions, but you can also maintain those industries that are the lifeblood of different regions of the country,” said Brad Crabtree, overseeing carbon management policy at the Great Plains Institute, a Minnesota-based environmental management company.
The Environmental Protection Agency, on the other side, has concluded that storing carbon dioxide is safe as long as companies do it carefully. Some experts in the field claim that whether landowners become convinced about the safety of the pipelines depends on companies acting responsibly.
The carbon capture and storage pipeline raise serious questions about the viability of the technology and its safety for people. Some parties are confident the technology is working as a climate change solution and reduces the emissions of major emitters, others are concerned it will not do the job and just prove to be an expensive mistake sustaining the reliance on fossil fuels.