Environmental group is urging west-central Minnesota counties to scrutinize proposed carbon pipeline – West Central Tribune – Advice Eating

GRANITE FALLS – Areas are urged to review the proposed Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline closely for potential risks and financial burdens it may entail.

Peg Furshong, director of operations and programs for the Montevideo-based nonprofit Clean Up the River Environment, told the Yellow Medicine County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that the organization has a number of concerns about the proposed pipeline.

Ames, Iowa-based Summit Carbon Solutions is proposing a $4.5 billion five-state project to ship carbon dioxide from ethanol plants to North Dakota for sequestration.

The Company is proposing just over 200 miles of pipeline in Minnesota, including connections to Granite Falls Energy’s ethanol plant in Granite Falls and Bushmills’ ethanol plant near Atwater.

“We have never had a project like this in the state. There are many unknowns,” Furshong told the commissioners.

The CURE organization – which works in areas including climate, energy and water – has two main concerns: What Furshong said was a lack of transparency on the part of company officials and the risks that a rupture, spill or leak in the pipeline poses could.

While the company has held public meetings in the area, the only people invited were those from whom the company wishes to purchase easements for the pipeline, Furshong told the commissioners.

She said the pipeline would carry liquefied carbon dioxide at high pressures, between 1,200 and 2,800 pounds per square inch, or more than double the pressure used for natural gas pipelines. Carbon dioxide is an odorless and invisible gas that is heavier than air. It can suffocate from air displacement.

Emergency medical service personnel could be at risk when responding to spills or cracks, Furshong said.

According to Furshong, most local responders do not have the equipment they need to respond to these types of emergencies. Their vehicles would not operate in a carbon dioxide air sea.

CURE raises concerns about both the Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline and a separate pipeline project called Navigator. The organization has applied to the state to carry out an environmental assessment of the two projects. The state decides whether they are classified as either an energy, agriculture, waste, transmission or pipeline project. Each of these classifications has different requirements, she said.

The proposed route of the Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline in Yellow Medicine County is nearly 14 miles long.

Summit Carbon Solutions graphic

Furshong said CURE held meetings for affected landowners. The easements requested by Summit Carbon Solutions are permanent and could be sold by the Company if the pipeline project fails.

She said there have been instances where the non-government company has attempted to purchase farmland that has been put up for sale at auctions, including a sale in Yellow Medicine County. This has upset some landowners, she said.

Furshong said counties should also consider the costs they might incur in inspecting a pipeline and responding to concerns from landowners and others. Counties in some states have discussed setting annual “community benefits” fees for the company to offset the costs.

Furshong said she’s read reports that suggest the process of capturing and transporting carbon dioxide could require almost as much energy as the ethanol produced. She also said there was no certainty that carbon dioxide could be permanently sequestered underground, as outlined by the Summit Carbon Solutions project.

An ADM facility in Illinois currently has the only large-scale sequestration system, she said. Other projects pump carbon dioxide underground to extract oil in shale deposits for oil wells.

“Rural communities are frontline communities,” Furshong said. “We want to be sure that if this pipeline comes about, rural communities will not be endangered so that out-of-state companies can make millions of dollars.”

Commissioner Greg Renneke’s district includes much of the 13.96-mile pipeline proposed in Yellow Medicine County. He said he heard concerns from a landowner about protecting the native prairies from being dug for the pipeline.

Commissioner Gary Johnson questioned CURE’s rejection of the pipeline, noting that without a pipeline, carbon emissions would continue to be emitted into the atmosphere. He also pointed out that hazardous materials — from propane to anhydrous ammonia — are routinely transported today, and first responders and law enforcement units are trained to respond to emergencies involving them.

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Shown is the proposed route of the Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline in Redwood County.

Summit Carbon Solutions graphic

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