A new carbon dioxide pipeline could run through Peoria and Tazewell counties
Up to 12 million tons of carbon dioxide per year could be piped through Peoria and Tazewell counties en route to a central Illinois sequestration site if plans for a new pipeline move forward.
Wolf Carbon Solutions is planning the Mt. Simon Hub pipeline from Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Decatur, Illinois. ADM is the anchor tenant on the pipeline, but the pipeline would be open to any carbon emitters that want to tap into the system, said Nick Noppinger, Wolf Carbon Solutions U.S. senior vice president of corporate development.
"What this pipeline will do is, it's going to sustain businesses for the long term by decarbonizing them and helping them work alongside those policies," said Noppinger. "But it's also going to attract new business to the area. As new business looks to save facilities across the country, they're going to look for ways to quickly and cheaply plug into a decarbonization solution. And we will be one of the only ones with that solution in place."
The general concept of carbon sequestration involves capturing and removing carbon dioxide from the emission stack of an industrial facility, such as an ethanol refinery.
The carbon dioxide is then transported via pipeline to a site where it's injected into a saline formation deep in the ground. That's a porous rock formation filled with salty water, or brine. That carbon dioxide then becomes trapped and contained in the brine, thus reducing emissions into the atmosphere.
Information on the Mt. Simon Hub was filed with the Iowa Utilities Board last month, but nothing is filed with the Illinois Commerce Commission yet. That's expected to happen by next year. After an application is submitted to the ICC, Noppinger said the company can begin negotiating with landowners to establish the pipeline corridor.
"We are a company that places a big importance on voluntary easement and negotiation, negotiated settlements. We as a team have never exercised eminent domain or land condemnation in our collective careers. And we don't intend to do that with this with this project," he said.
Noppinger said affiliate company Wolf Midstream constructed a 150-mile-long pipeline in Alberta, Canada without using eminent domain.
Carbon dioxide pipelines aren't without risks. The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service notes high concentrations of CO2 can be harmful to human health, particularly because the gas is colorless and odorless, making it harder to detect. A 2020 CO2 pipeline rupture in Satartia, Miss. led to the hospitalization of 45 people and an evacuation of that community.
In Iowa, Noppinger said the proposed pipeline corridor is contained within a two-mile wide corridor. That's both to accommodate landowner feedback and to avoid population centers.
"We have designed our pipeline route to really avoid any high concentration areas, subdivisions, places of importance, like a hospital or a church or, you know, a house. We're not putting our pipeline right next to homes," Noppinger said.
Noppinger said the company also has an emergency response plan, and will start discussions with first responders along the pipeline route in the next couple of months to educate them about it.
"I will say it's a very safe and proven type of pipeline transportation. And so we just need to make sure that the community and the response teams are educated on how to handle it," he said.
Noppinger said the pipeline's installation doesn't have a long-term effect on farmland crop yields, but there could be shorter-term yield degradation. The company has a four-year yield loss compensation plan, providing for 100% of the yield lost during the first year and gradually scaling down by 20% each year for the remaining three.
Wolf Carbon Solutions plans to spend 2023 negotiating right-of-way usage with landowners along the pipeline corridor. Construction is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2024, with the pipeline operational by 2025.
Several town hall-style meetings will be announced in communities along the pipeline route in the upcoming months, Noppinger said.