Understanding the Pipeline boondoggle

This presentation was originally presented to a Zoom audience.  It was so good that the Free Soil Foundation asked the presenter if we could share her information; she graciously approved.  

I am from Montgomery County. Thank you for wanting to learn about CO2 pipelines. The promo says boondoggle, so I will be a little biased tonight, however, please know I’d be happy to speak to your county or organization with just the facts.

More than two years ago my neighbors received certified letters in the mail notifying them of a potential carbon pipeline project. The Summit route is proposed between two of our farms and behind our house. Since then, the more I learned, the more concerned I became.

I am Jan Norris from Montgomery County. Thank you for wanting to learn about CO2 pipelines. The promo says boondoggle, so I will be a little biased tonight, however, please know I’d be happy to speak to your county or organization with just the facts.

More than two years ago my neighbors received certified letters in the mail notifying them of a potential carbon pipeline project. The Summit route is proposed between two of our farms and behind our house. Since then, the more I learned, the more concerned I became.

Iowas Pipeline Boondoggle Slide 1

Look closely at the white boundaries of the midwestern states. Three carbon pipeline routes were proposed to impact the six states on this map: Purple is Summit Carbon Solutions, Blue is Navigator CO2 Ventures, and Yellow is Wolf/ADM.

Summit proposes to ultimately terminate in North Dakota and the other two in Illinois. These states have the geology needed to sequester. North Dakota is one of three states that have “primacy”—meaning the EPA has given the state permission to oversee sequestration instead of federal oversight. Illinois has proven to be a more difficult path for Navigator and Wolf/ADM.

Initially there were 3 carbon pipeline projects proposed to cross Iowa. Navigator has since cancelled their project, citing an unpredictable regulatory environment, but they met heavy resistance by landowners in every state. 

Wolf, which was also rejected in IL last year, has vowed to continue their project despite the opposition.

Initially there were 3 carbon pipeline projects proposed to cross Iowa. Navigator has since cancelled their project, citing an unpredictable regulatory environment, but they met heavy resistance by landowners in every state.

Wolf, which was also rejected in IL last year, has vowed to continue their project despite the opposition.

The Iowa Utilities Board is the state agency approving or denying pipeline permits. Last fall it held the longest hearing in its history for Summit Carbon Solutions. While we’ve been waiting for the IUB to declare a ruling, Summit was signing contracts with POET and Valero ethanol plants across Iowa – ultimately adding 14 extensions to the pipeline amounting to more than 340 miles, making the total route in Iowa about 1,000 miles (these additions are highlighted in yellow). 

If you want to know what motivates me, look at the blue map - our house and farms are about a mile from where the two lines intersect in the bottom left corner.

The Iowa Utilities Board is the state agency approving or denying pipeline permits. Last fall it held the longest hearing in its history for Summit Carbon Solutions. While we’ve been waiting for the IUB to declare a ruling, Summit was signing contracts with POET and Valero ethanol plants across Iowa – ultimately adding 14 extensions to the pipeline amounting to more than 340 miles, making the total route in Iowa about 1,000 miles (these additions are highlighted in yellow). 

So what is CCUS - Carbon Capture Utilization & Storage?  Summit plans to capture CO2 as it’s produced at ethanol plants, pressurize it into a supercritical state, transport it over 2000 miles across 5 states, and then either inject it up to 2 miles underground to permanently sequester the CO2, or use it in enhanced oil recovery to extract fossil fuels like oil and methane from the ground.

So what is CCUS - Carbon Capture Utilization & Storage? Summit plans to capture CO2 as it’s produced at ethanol plants, pressurize it into a supercritical state, transport it over 2000 miles across 5 states, and then either inject it up to 2 miles underground to permanently sequester the CO2, or use it in enhanced oil recovery to extract fossil fuels like oil and methane from the ground.

Why?  There are billions of reasons. The federal government will reward them with 45Q tax credits. 
•	45Q was enacted in 2008 under George W Bush, ramped up during the Trump administration and recently enhanced under the Inflation Reduction Act. Hence, the election outcome this fall isn’t likely to change things. 
•	Payment will be by the ton. Permanent sequestration pays more, but Enhanced Oil Recovery is an option. 
•	Reporting is only by the honor system.

Why? There are billions of reasons. The federal government will reward them with 45Q tax credits.

• 45Q was enacted in 2008 under George W Bush, ramped up during the Trump administration and recently enhanced under the Inflation Reduction Act. Hence, the election outcome this fall isn’t likely to change things.

• Payment will be by the ton. Permanent sequestration pays more, but Enhanced Oil Recovery is an option.

• Reporting is only by the honor system.

But will the CO2 be permanently sequestered? Summit wants us to believe that is their intent, but testified during IUB hearing that they wouldn’t turn down a shipper looking to use it for enhanced oil recovery.
 
Just a couple of weeks ago, the North Dakota Mineral Resources Director said, “We've got to overcome this attitude of 'I don't want this CO2 coming through my backyard to get to North Dakota.' We are going to need everything we can get, from any place that will send it, if we want that extra 10 billion barrels of oil,"

But will the CO2 be permanently sequestered? Summit wants us to believe that is their intent, but testified during IUB hearing that they wouldn’t turn down a shipper looking to use it for enhanced oil recovery.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the North Dakota Mineral Resources Director said, “We've got to overcome this attitude of 'I don't want this CO2 coming through my backyard to get to North Dakota.' We are going to need everything we can get, from any place that will send it, if we want that extra 10 billion barrels of oil,"

These three projects are just the beginning. At a hearing in Des Moines last summer, the EPA panelist repeated a report by Princeton saying there could be as many as 60,000-90,000 more miles of CO2 pipeline proposed in the United States. 

Some are already being announced. When a new pipeline wants to start a project, the first place they look is next to an existing pipeline. Do we want Iowa to become a pipeline interstate?

These three projects are just the beginning. At a hearing in Des Moines last summer, the EPA panelist repeated a report by Princeton saying there could be as many as 60,000-90,000 more miles of CO2 pipeline proposed in the United States.

Some are already being announced. When a new pipeline wants to start a project, the first place they look is next to an existing pipeline. Do we want Iowa to become a pipeline interstate?

I was amused to learn there is a Museum of Failure. You might remember some entries: lawn darts, Betamax VCRs, or Crystal Pepsi. 

However, I was surprised to see in 2005, Corn Ethanol was inducted saying growing corn & turning it into fuel consumed so much energy that there were no real climate benefits.

I was amused to learn there is a Museum of Failure. You might remember some entries: lawn darts, Betamax VCRs, or Crystal Pepsi. 

However, I was surprised to see in 2005, Corn Ethanol was inducted saying growing corn & turning it into fuel consumed so much energy that there were no real climate benefits.

Iowas Pipeline Boondoggle Slide 12

At the IUB hearing last fall, Univ of Iowa Geographical and Sustainability Sciences Professor Silvia Sechhi pointed out the importance of building an off-ramp for ethanol so our farmers don’t fall off the cliff. 

Perhaps doubling down with a carbon pipeline is not a good idea?

Iowas Pipeline Boondoggle Slide 13

So what is the current status of the Summit project? Summit has submitted applications in the 4 states that have state utilities commission, and have NO PERMITS YET.  

When Summit filed in Iowa, they projected to be nearly operational by this time, so they are grossly behind schedule. 



Iowas Pipeline Boondoggle Slide 14

Some say North Dakota should have been the easiest state to get permits in, but the route was initially denied by the state's Public Service Commission. Summit was allowed reconsideration after rerouting around Bismark.

  • New hearings start next week - 4/22
  • Many Landowners who testified in the last hearing are no longer on the route 
  • At least one county has denied Summit’s injection well permits. 
  • A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of governing the use of underground pore space has been filed.
  • An investigation into Summit’s investors was requested but declined by the ND Atty General.



Iowas Pipeline Boondoggle Slide 15

Summit is also having a tough time in South Dakota. 

  • The Public Utilities Commission there initially denied Summit’s route 
  • Summit is expected to refile in the coming months
  • Opposition has only grown stronger. 
  • Hundreds of volunteers are collecting signatures for a pipeline ballot initiative so the people of South Dakota can have a voice in the process.



Iowas Pipeline Boondoggle Slide 16

In Iowa, Summit’s evidentiary hearing with the Iowa Utilities Board started in August where witnesses testified for 8 weeks. Never have I seen so many grown men moved to tears.

  • Only landowners along the route who haven’t signed easements were allowed to participate. Neighbors (like me), tenants and other parties were left out. Witness testimony can be watched on Bold Nebraska’s YouTube channel.
  • The public comment period scheduled by the former IUB chair was eliminated
  • The hearing produced over 7,500 pages of transcripts, more than 650 hearing exhibit files; & thousands of pages of pre-file testimony.
  • A spokesperson for the IUB says there is no deadline for a decision, but some speculate it could be by this summer. The board could grant the permit, grant it with modifications, or deny it. 
  • Summit has requested eminent domain as part of the permit. 
Iowas Pipeline Boondoggle Slide 17
  • Whether granted or denied, the Summit decision is likely to be appealed. 
  • If denied, Summit said in an interview that they would make changes & refile
  • And if approved, Summit said they will wait for approvals in South & North Dakota before starting construction in Iowa 
  • An appeal is anticipated if it is approved
  • This is why current bill HF2664 is so important - it would allow construction to be paused without a bond during the appeal
This presentation was originally presented to a Zoom audience. The Free Soil Foundation was impressed and, therefore, asked the presenter if we could share her information; she graciously agreed.

To view the companion text for each slide, click the green arrow.

More coming soon.