Navigator to Submit Expanded Proposal for 1,300-Mile Carbon Pipeline Project

(P&GJ) — Navigator CO2 plans to resubmit an enhanced proposal to the Illinois Commerce Agency before the end of February, over six months after initially submitting an application to the commission for its multistate pipeline.

In January, Navigator CO2 withdrew its initial proposal, which had been submitted initially in July 2022. The initial 1,300-mile pipeline, which was built to trap carbon dioxide emissions, also covered 13 counties in central Illinois and the states of Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Adams, Brown, Christian, Fulton, Hancock, Henry, Knox, McDonough, Morgan, Pike, Sangamon, Schuyler, and Scott are among those counties.

The expanded version will have at least one new sequestration site and an additional lateral route, according to Navigator's withdrawal letter to ICC. The business, which is based in Nebraska, first identified Christian County as the site for its sequestration facility, which would house the carbon dioxide storage.

Construction is still scheduled to start in 2024 and be completed by 2025, despite the project's extended scope. The pipeline will likely cost $3.2 billion.

"There continues to be a growing and diverse number of industrial emitters across the Corn Belt recognizing the value carbon capture technology provides for their businesses," Navigator CEO Matt Vining said according to the State Journal-Register. "With the increasing number of shippers participating in the Heartland Greenway and landowners' collaborative and responsive feedback, refiling allows us to streamline the application process in Illinois for all parties."

The specific details are still being worked out, but pipeline mileage will be included in the upcoming proposal, according to Elizabeth Burns-Thompson, Navigator CO2 Vice President of Government & Public Affairs, who made the statement on January 23.

The U.S. Department of Energy defines carbon capture as a method of removing carbon dioxide emissions before they may be released into the atmosphere. In order to extract the resource, CO2 can be filtered into oil wells in a process known as "enhanced oil recovery," according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Climate Portal.

According to MIT, the majority of the emissions will be used for underground storage. The Heartland Greenway project is expected to be able to capture and store up to 15 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, according to Navigator CO2.

RELATED: 1,200 Mile CO2 Pipeline to Create Positive Ripples in its Community

However, shortly after Navigator's initial filing, the Christian County Board and four other county boards submitted petitions to ICC asking for intervention. One of those counties, Sangamon County, later declared in an October moratorium that "no permits or other grants of authority to construct any carbon dioxide pipeline" will be issued by the county before May 2023. Sangamon County was the first of those counties.

Andy Van Meter, the chairman of Sangamon County, stated on Jan. 24 that construction work associated with the pipeline might temporarily benefit the local economy. He claimed that although the county is not "categorically opposed" to the project, the board needs additional details and guarantees from Navigator about their safety protocols.

"We intervened because we have a number of concerned citizens in the community and our farm bureaus were really concerned about this," Van Meter told the State Journal-Register, who was later joined by five county townships who passed resolutions in opposition to the pipeline. "We really weren't getting any answers from the pipeline company."

The sequestration site, which imposed a six-month embargo on any development or building of a facility last May, is largely to blame for Christian County's objection.

According to Burns-Thompson, the state Environmental Protection Agency is still involved in the process for the Christian County sequestration site. For the extra sites, other places are being examined, including Montgomery County.

In some ways, connecting with residents has been difficult for Navigator, with whom, according to Burns-Thompson, conversations started last fall. The pipeline must be built through 978 easement parcels in the 13-county zone, but as of December, just 63, or around 6%, had been acquired, according to Navigator papers. Sangamon possessed the most parcels (a total of 171), but only nine agreements had been signed.

“Largely before they want to get into the details of the dollars and the cents conversation, it’s getting to know the individual,” she told the State Journal-Register, adding that more than 800 landowners were included in the Illinois portion of the project. “We’re out there proactively developing relationships on a one-on-one basis and that takes time.”

Other anti-pipeline organizations, such the Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines, have expressed worry about the pipeline's potential health risks and effects on property values. After a pipeline break in Satartia, Mississippi resulted in 46 hospitalizations, the coalition demanded that the project be put on hold until the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration updated CO2 standards.

“Navigator’s initial petition to the ICC was not just incomplete, it was nonsensical,” Pam Richart, co-founder of the Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines and co-Director of the Eco-Justice Collaborative, said in a statement according to the State Journal-Register.

She added: “Without acquiring a sequestration site, there was no way to analyze the proposed route of the pipeline and its potential impact on farmers, landowners, and public safety.

Although it is yet unknown what steps the state would take, other state legislatures, including the Iowa General Assembly, have put forward measures that would restrict the attempts of Navigator and two other carbon corporations to build pipelines.

This story was originally reported on by the State Journal-Register.


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