Summit wants to add 340 pipeline miles in Iowa

BY: JARED STRONG – MARCH 5, 2024 4:45 PM

WILLISTON, ND – JULY 25: Construction workers specializing in pipe-laying work on a section of pipeline on July 25, 2013 outside Watford City, North Dakota. North Dakota is currently experiencing an oil boom, creating thousands of jobs throughout the state and billions of dollars in new state revenue. Local two-lane roads that are used to access drill sites have taken a beating due to the unprecedented amount of traffic. Pipelines are being constructed across the state in part to streamline the movement of oil from drill sites to train depots and oil refineries. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Summit Carbon Solutions plans to expand its carbon dioxide pipeline footprint in Iowa by about 50% — or about 340 miles — to connect to more ethanol plants, according to new regulatory filings.

The company is awaiting approval from the Iowa Utilities Board for its initial proposal to lay the backbone of its pipeline system. That plan includes about 690 miles of pipe in Iowa that would connect to a dozen ethanol plants to transport their captured carbon dioxide to North Dakota for underground storage.

The scope of the company’s project in Iowa has expanded considerably in recent weeks and is the result of another company, Navigator CO2, abandoning its plans for a similar system. Two large ethanol producers — POET and Valero — that had initially agreed to be part of Navigator’s project have since signed with Summit.

That has resulted in Summit more than doubling its number of ethanol plant partners in Iowa to a total of 30. There are 42 in the state.

“I view our project as representing a meaningful shift in agriculture to lower the carbon intensity of biofuel products,” Summit CEO Lee Blank said Monday when the company announced Valero’s participation.

Also on Monday, the company indicated it would file for 14 more hazardous liquid pipeline permits in Iowa to connect to the POET and Valero facilities, including one that is in South Dakota. A review of the expansion routes filed with the IUB shows that they will include about 340 miles of new pipe in 22 counties.

It’s possible for Summit to add even more ethanol plants to its proposed pipeline network, said Sabrina Zenor, a Summit spokesperson. The project now includes 57 ethanol producers in five states and is expected to transport more than 16 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.

The system has a total capacity of about 18 million metric tons, Zenor said.

Summit and ethanol producers would benefit from federal tax incentives for capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide that would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere and for producing low-carbon fuels. Ethanol plants would further benefit by being able to sell their fuels into low-carbon markets, either to power vehicles on the road or planes in the air with sustainable aviation fuels. More than half of the corn Iowa farmers produce is used to make ethanol.

Opponents of Summit’s project have wide-ranging concerns, from landowners’ rights and public safety to rich investors capitalizing on government incentives and the long-term preservation of ethanol production, which some view as environmentally damaging. Read more