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Plans for Carbon Sequestration Pipeline for IA Questioned

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Tuesday, September 21, 2021   

DES MOINES, Iowa -- This fall, the Iowa Utilities Board is hosting meetings to inform the public about a proposed underground pipeline, which would transport carbon emissions for sequestration.

Supporters argued it can help reduce harmful emissions in the atmosphere, while environmental advocates countered the risks are far greater than any proposed benefits.

The line, which would run across 30 Iowa counties, would feed into a larger underground system moving carbon dioxide captured from biofuel plants to North Dakota, where it would be stored.

Carolyn Raffensperger, of the Science and Environmental Health Network, said while it sounds like a noble idea, it's counterproductive.

"It requires so much more energy to collect the CO2 from, say, an ethanol plant, that you're going to increase the emissions in carbon dioxide simply through the increased need for power," Raffensperger asserted.

And if there's a leak, she pointed out, there could be serious health risks with transporting and storage of the carbon dioxide, which also could be compressed into liquid form for renewable fuels.

Summit Carbon, the company behind the project, said construction and operations will create jobs, but opponents said the firms benefit from federal tax breaks at the public's expense. The hearings for impacted counties began this month and run through mid-October.

While the company insists the storage would be safe and secure, Raffensperger, who is based in Iowa, emphasized landowners near the proposed route should know it would be classified as a hazardous liquid pipeline. She added there are better ways to spend resources to combat harmful emissions.

"This is a solution for the fossil-fuel industry to keep doing business as usual," Raffensperger remarked.

Instead, she urged policymakers to focus on expanding clean-energy projects, such as wind and solar, while bolstering infrastructure that aims to improve water quality. Her group claims there would be just as many job opportunities with such investments.

Meanwhile, public comments can be submitted to the Iowa Utilities Board either online or through the mail.


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