Tallgrass Energy’s Trailblazer Pipeline Company LLC has recently made significant progress in its plans for CO2 transport. On October 23, 2023, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted a permit to the company, allowing them to convert their existing 400-mile-long natural gas pipeline system into a carbon dioxide transportation network.
The company is looking to utilize their existing pipeline, which has been in service since the 1980s and was originally designed to transport natural gas from the Rocky Mountain supply basins in Wyoming through Colorado and into Nebraska.
Trailblazer now intends to repurpose this pipeline for the transportation of CO2 from emissions sources in Nebraska and Colorado to geologic formations in Wyoming, where it will be permanently stored through the Trailblazer Conversion Project.
The order issued by FERC allows for the repurposing of the pipeline infrastructure to be used for CO2 transportation instead of natural gas. It also authorizes the construction of new natural gas supply corridors by Rockies Express Pipeline LLC, to be used by Trailblazer Pipeline Company, in order to meet the needs of its current natural gas clients.
While this development of the project is a significant step forward in carbon removal efforts, there are concerns surrounding the methods used by the Trailblazer Pipeline Company.
One major concern is whether the company is circumventing the need for permits by repurposing its existing infrastructure rather than going through the complex process of obtaining permits for the construction of greenfield pipelines.
Another major concern is the lack of evaluation by the FERC regarding the potential environmental impacts and benefits of transporting CO2, on the basis that this future use of CO2 is non-jurisdictional.
These potential risks attract attention to the project, as the positive results of its operational strategy could establish a blueprint for others to follow in the future. Although it aims to reduce CO2 emissions, this plan might require additional monitoring to ensure protection from unintended consequences or negative effects on the surrounding ecosystems.