CO2 pipeline proposal attracts blended response in SW Minn.

A proposal to construct a pipeline throughout 5 states to attach biofuel vegetation with everlasting carbon storage is drawing blended reactions in southwestern Minnesota, the place one leg of the venture would run.

Underneath the plan put forth by Iowa-based Summit Carbon Options, the pipeline would funnel CO2 emissions from ethanol vegetation to places in North Dakota the place the greenhouse fuel could be injected into rock formations deep underground. The corporate hopes to start building on the $4.5 billion venture subsequent September. 

Pipeline supporters are touting the venture’s potential to fight local weather change, and enhance the native economic system. However some landowners and environmental teams say they’re apprehensive the pipeline may break and pollute water and farmland.

A maze of pipes on the Highwater Ethanol plant in rural Lamberton, Minn.

Jackson Forderer for MPR Information

Drumming up assist

Summit Carbon Options filed for permits this week with the Minnesota Public Utilities Fee, however venture backers have been working to generate assist for the pipeline for months.

In late August, Highwater Ethanol held a media tour at its facility in Lamberton to indicate how the plant may finally hyperlink as much as the pipeline. Highwater is certainly one of 5 ethanol vegetation in Minnesota, and amongst 32 within the Midwest, already dedicated to the venture. 

CEO Brian Kletscher says in 2021, the Highwater processed simply over 581,000 tons of corn into ethanol. That very same 12 months, the plant additionally emitted about 78,000 metric tons of CO2. 

By capturing and storing its carbon emissions from ethanol manufacturing, Kletscher says Highwater may save thousands and thousands of {dollars} a 12 months. Federal tax legislation permits a credit score as much as $85 for each metric ton of carbon a facility shops underground.

These tax financial savings would make ethanol less expensive to supply, he says, and that will assist the native ag economic system.

“We buy roughly 50 p.c of corn produced in Redwood County,” stated Kletscher. “It’s going to be one other step for us to get extra for ethanol, and that method, we’re viable for a really very long time into the long run.”

A person talks at a press conference

Lee Clean, CEO of Summit Carbon Options, talks at a press convention on the Highwater Ethanol plant on Aug. 30 in rural Lamberton, Minn.

Jackson Forderer for MPR Information

Summit Carbon Options has been internet hosting conferences to debate the venture and reply questions or handle issues. The corporate is in search of voluntary easements from landowners to run the pipeline via their properties. These conversations have been largely optimistic, stated CEO Lee Clean.

“We consider very a lot that that is useful to the farm gate economic system,” he stated. “And so, we would like them to be concerned, in addition to the truth that we’re partnering with them as we take this venture via [to] fruition and to completion.”

However hurdles stay. 

Venture faces opposition

Peg Furshong works for the grassroots environmental group CURE River primarily based in Montevideo. She’s involved pipeline ruptures may expose groundwater to carbon dioxide, creating carbonic acid in native water provides. The fuel is odorless and colorless. It’s additionally an asphyxiant for people. 

“There’s been no data shared with the general public, like there could be if a faculty was being constructed, or a hospital or something huge in a serious rural neighborhood,” Furshong stated. “And in order that lack of transparency and lack of company for rural communities is actually essential. That democracy level is lacking.”

About 35 miles north of Lamberton within the Decrease Sioux Indian Neighborhood, the tribal council can also be involved in regards to the potential dangers of the venture. Although the pipeline received’t undergo the reservation, it can cross the Minnesota River upstream from the neighborhood.     

A person poses for a portrait

Kevin O’Keefe, treasurer of the Decrease Sioux Indian Neighborhood, says a proposed CO2 pipeline which might cross the Minnesota River upstream of the neighborhood issues tribal members.

Hannah Yang | MPR Information

Kevin O’Keefe, treasurer for Decrease Sioux, worries about potential dangers to wildlife and water high quality if the pipeline leaks or bursts. He additionally is anxious about whether or not emergency responders are skilled or geared up to handle a leak or rupture, leaving rural communities weak if correct security precautions  aren’t in place. 

“We do wish to encourage inexperienced vitality sources. We do wish to encourage much less burning of fossil fuels,” O’Keefe stated. “I feel it is a poor resolution for it.”

Summit Carbon approached Anita Vogel’s mother and father in Lamberton to signal an easement. Vogel stated some neighbors and landowners had been provided signing bonuses. She’s not towards those that contemplate signing for the venture as a result of they want the cash to assist their households and companies, however she urges others to hunt extra data. 

Anita Vogel poses for a portrait

Anita Vogel stands the place a potential pipeline would go if her household indicators an easement settlement with Summit Carbon Options.

Jackson Forderer for MPR Information

“My message to the man landowners is there’s no hurry. There may be completely no hurry,” she stated. “They should do what’s greatest for them, so long as they aren’t taken benefit of.”

Hamline College professor David Schultz says the venture may very well be each important and threatening to these residing in rural Minnesota, and even within the Twin Cities. Schultz, who teaches political science and environmental research, stated whereas pipelines are useful from an financial and vitality growth standpoint, in addition they pose dangers to the setting if one thing goes unsuitable. 

“These pipelines have an ambiguous position in our society about life-style, politics, vitality and a complete bunch of various issues that the majority of us don’t actually take into consideration on a day-to-day foundation,” Schultz added. 

Larry Liepold poses for a portrait

Larry Liepold stands the place a potential pipeline would go if his household indicators an easement settlement with Summit Carbon Options. Liepold’s household rents out a part of the farmland in Heron Lake, Minn., with the Heron Lake BioEnergy ethanol plant within the background.

Jackson Forderer for MPR Information

Larry Liepold farms land in Heron Lake greater than 30 miles south of Lamberton. Summit Carbon Options approached him about an easement a number of months in the past, however Liepold stated he rejected the provide. 

“Nothing ought to undergo with out a little little bit of resistance to strive it and see if it’s worthy,” Liepold stated. “Primarily as a result of we’ve taken a place that we wish to be pretty compensated, ought to we determine that it’s a superb factor for our space.”

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