Story, Boone counties 2 of 30 that $4.5 million carbon sequestration pipeline would run through

Source: By Danielle Gehr, Ames Tribune • Posted: Sunday, September 12, 2021

A meeting Monday will let Story County residents know how an emissions-reducing pipeline stretching through 30 Iowa counties might impact them.

Alden company Summit Carbon Solutions, owned by Bruce Rastetter’s Summit Agricultural Group, is proposing a $4.5 billion pipeline that would permanently sequester carbon from biofuels plants — including Nevada’s Lincoln Way Energy.

“This project would put the ethanol that’s produced in our partner facilities on track to be a net-zero fuel source by the end of the decade,” Summit Carbon Solutions spokesman Jesse Harris said at Tuesday’s Story County supervisors meeting.

The move would mean Iowa’s ethanol plants would meet low-emissions standards in states like California, enabling them to tap into those markets, he said.

Watch Tuesday’s discussion of the project here.

The Story County meeting, one of 30 in each of the counties the pipeline will run through, will take place 6 p.m. Monday at Ames’ Gateway Hotel & Conference Center, located at 2100 Green Hills Drive. A meeting in Boone County is set for noon on Monday, Oct. 4, at the Boone Historical Society.

The 710-mile underground pipeline extending through 30 Iowa counties, including Story and Boone, would capture carbon dioxide emissions from ethanol and other industrial plants.

The pipeline would prevent emissions from being released into the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming. Instead, the emissions would be compressed into a liquid and transported to North Dakota, where they would be injected into underground rock formations.

Harris said the rock formations would “permanently and safely” store the emissions, and come with no foreseeable shortage of space.

Iowa, the nation’s largest ethanol producer, is among five states the pipeline will run through, including Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska.

The project, dubbed the Midwest Carbon Express, could sequester 12 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year, which is equivalent to removing 2.6 million vehicles from roads annually.

The emissions will be captured from 12 ethanol plants in Iowa, five of which are in the vicinity of Story County, Harris said.

Along with Lincoln Way Energy, the plants include Hardin County’s Pine Lake Corn Processors; Wright County’s Corn, LP; Cerro Gordo County’s Golden Gray Energy and Greene County’s Louis Dreyfus.

The pipeline would cut through the northeast corner of the county, according to Tuesday’s presentation, entering the county near Route 65 and stopping at Lincoln Way Energy, which sits about halfway between Nevada and Ames. The pipeline would sit about 4 feet underground, Harris said.

Summit Carbon Solutions plans to conduct conversations with all impacted landowners on how they would need to operate on their land, Harris said. The goal would be to not to have to use eminent domain, Harris said, while adding, “I don’t think I can definitively rule it out.”

In response to a question from Supervisor Latifah Faisal at Tuesday’s meeting, Harris said the possibility of a leak is small.

Supervisor Linda Murken said her constituents had asked how the project might impact the county’s groundwater, and Harris said he would need to follow up on the question.

The company would employ between 14,000 and 17,000 people to complete the project, Harris said. The bulk of these positions would be in the building and construction trades, he said, and well over half would be unionized positions.

The project also calls for 350-460 full-time permanent employees. The company’s presence in these communities will bring other forms of economic stimulus, through the usage of local suppliers, hotels and restaurants.

“There’s an ongoing economic impact that we see in the communities that we operate in,” Harris said.

Faisal asked how the company is communicating with historically disadvantaged populations, which includes low-income families and native tribes.

Harris said the company is following a rigorous outreach program with Native tribes. The federal government takes the lead on those communication efforts, but Harris said the company makes its officials available to answer any questions.

The company also plans to employ as many local residents as possible throughout the project, he said.

“I come to this with the point of view that climate change does disproportionately impact people who are lower-income, middle income, communities of color,” Harris said. “The ability to be able to reduce CO2 emissions to this degree … we do think that has a positive impact overall on Iowa communities.”

Danielle Gehr is a politics and government reporter for the Ames Tribune. She can be reached by email at dgehr@gannett.com, phone at (515) 663-6925 or on Twitter at @Dani_Gehr.

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