Galesburg mayor, McDonough County farmer push for carbon pipeline regulations
Around 50 environmental advocates and landowners gathered Tuesday afternoon at the statue of Abraham Lincoln outside the Illinois State Capitol Building in Springfield.
Some held signs saying “No False Solutions” and “Protect People, Not Polluters.”
They were there to call for the swift passage of House Bill 3119, the Carbon Dioxide Transport and Storage Protections Act -- and to speak about the dangers of carbon pipelines like the one Navigator CO2 wants to build in 13 counties in western and central Illinois.
Among them was Galesburg Mayor Peter Schwartzman, who is also a scientist as a professor of environmental studies at Knox College.
He said climate change must be addressed, but creating a “Wild West” of carbon capture and sequestration is not the answer.
“Subsidies handed out for this misguided solution are expected to be incredibly high,” Schwartzman said. “But if we’re going to capture carbon and store it underground as part of the greenhouse gas reduction strategy, then it needs to be done in such a way that it doesn’t harm people or the planet in the process.”
With HB 3119, there would be more regulations in place, such as mandatory training of first responders and no storage sites near drinking water supplies.
The legislation also prohibits the use of eminent domain for construction and sequestration sites, which is important to McDonough County farmer Steve Hess.
Hess was there Tuesday as well. He’s a fifth-generation farmer on a sesquicentennial farm near Bushnell.
He said in addition to the dangers of carbon dioxide for people and livestock, the pipeline would cross his farm, disconnect parcels, erode and compact the soil, and sever his drainage system.
So he believes the bill is essential for protecting his farm and family and his neighbors.
Current law allows pipeline developers to take farmers’ land despite objections from farmers in 22 counties.
“County farm bureaus are joining farmers across the state and they are actively opposing CO2 pipelines against Illinois Farm Bureau policy. We need the Illinois Farm Bureau to stand up and do the same,” Hess said. “If they are here and they care about property rights and our freedoms, there is no way that eminent domain should be used.”
House Bill 3119 also ensures that liability from the pipelines is in the hands of the developers, not taxpayers.
Others to speak included Robert Johnson, president of Peoria Park District, and Christine Nannicelli of Sierra Club Illinois.
Participants also met with their legislators to urge their support of the bill.
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