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Summit Carbon Solutions explains pipeline project that may cross through county
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Summit Carbon Solutions explains pipeline project that may cross through county

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2,000 miles of pipe would deliver CO2 to underground storage in North Dakota

Part 1 of 2

A member of the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) and representatives of Summit Carbon Solutions conducted an informational session for landowners and members of the public on Tuesday night at Manilla Memorial Hall.

The topic of the meeting was the proposed “Midwest Carbon Express” pipeline that, if approved, will pass south to north through Crawford County.

IUB Board Member Josh Byrnes explained that the purpose of the meeting was to allow members of the public to learn the details of the proposed project, which has not yet been approved by IUB.

Byrnes explained that comments from members of the public at the meeting would not be part of the meeting record; written comments must be submitted through the IUB website.

The representatives of Summit Carbon Solutions at the meeting were Jimmy Powell, the company’s chief operating officer, Jim Pirolli, chief commercial officer, and Jake Ketzner, vice president of government relations and public affairs.

Ketzner explained that the company was formed in 2020 and is headquartered in Ames.

He said the Midwest Carbon Express pipeline is a $4.5 billion project to create the world’s largest carbon capture and storage project.

The pipeline project is a partnership among Midwest Carbon Solutions and 31 ethanol facilities in the upper Midwest (12 in Iowa).

According to the company:

- Carbon dioxide (CO2) will be captured from the ethanol plants and piped to North Dakota, where it will be permanently stored a mile underground.

- Burying the CO2 underground would cut in half the “carbon intensity” of the ethanol facilities, which would enable them to produce “net zero-carbon fuel” by the end of the decade.

- This would allow ethanol to be sold in “growing markets for low-carbon fuel.”

- The project will bury 12 million metric tons of CO2 per year, which is the equivalent of the CO2 emissions from 2.6 million cars per year or the carbon in 14.7 million acres of forest.

- The CO2 will be injected below ground in geologic formations where it will stay for millions of years; the net result will be the substantial reduction in CO2 emissions that would otherwise have gone into the atmosphere.

The proposed path of the 2,000 mile pipeline will take it through Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska; the pipeline will pass through 29 Iowa counties and will involve 20 ethanol companies.

Quad County Corn Processors, in Ida County, would be the nearest involved ethanol plant.

Ketzner said the company hopes to begin construction in 2023 and begin operations in 2024.

He said the project will help ethanol compete in a low-carbon world.

Ketzner noted that 53% of Iowa corn goes to ethanol plants, and more than 44,000 Iowa jobs are tied to ethanol.

Powell explained that the CO2 would be injected into the ground, in a dense state with some liquid and some gas properties, at a sequestration site near Bismarck, North Dakota.

The CO2 would be injected into sandstone with porous cavities below a geologic formation “cap rock” that would prevent it from permeating back to the surface.

He said the area has undergone extensive study by North Dakota, North Dakota State University and the Department of Energy to confirm that the CO2 would remain permanently subsurface.

Powell said the project would fall under the liquid code of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

The company plans to exceed PHMSA requirements and x-ray 100% of welds, instead of the required 10%.

The pipeline project will use a “line balance system” that will ensure that the same amount of CO2 comes out at the destination as was put in, Powell said.

The control center in Ames, where pressure, temperatures and rate of flow will be monitored, will be staffed 24 hours per day, he said.

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“We’re going to ask for a 100-foot wide easement across your property,” Powell said. “If in agricultural use or pasture, we’ll remove the topsoil and put it on one side of the right of way (and) segregate that from the subsoil that will be on the other side of the right of way.”

Once the pipe is laid, the subsoil will be returned and then the topsoil will be replaced and graded.

Powell noted that the board of supervisors will be required to appoint a representative for landowners to make sure the project is done the right way.

An independent soil scientist will also test every 500 feet along the property to confirm the quality and depth of topsoil, Powell said.

Landowners will be given 100% of fair market value for property used in the project.

He said value will be determined by the Iowa Land Sales Report or another reputable source.

“If you have one you’d prefer to use, you tell us what that is,” Powell said. “We want something that updates on a regular basis.”

He said that (using simple math) for five acres, at $20,000 per acre, a landowner would receive $100,000.

“That’s a one-time payment, and behind that we’ll also have damages,” Powell said.

The 100-foot right of way would be split into two parts: a 50-foot permanent easement and a 50-foot temporary easement.

“One hundred percent of that easement can be replanted, if it’s in agricultural use,” Powell said.

The company would need access to the permanent easement for maintenance and emergencies.

“We still have to notify you as a landowner … if we have any issues and concerns,” he said.

Landowners would have seven days to rescind an agreement if they change their minds.

Powell said soil compaction will occur during the process of laying the pipeline.

For crop loss compensation, landowners would receive 100% for the first year, 80% for the second year, and 60% for the third year.

Yield will be determined by using a three-year average and throwing out a down year, he said.

If agreeable to landowners with concerns about drainage tiles, a company called Ellingson would come in prior to construction to modify or move tiles or otherwise minimize damage; the company will cover any damage caused by the project, he said.

The pipeline will be buried a minimum of 48 inches deep at the top of the pipe, according to Powell.

Landowners may also choose to have their own contractor work on tile prior to the project, but Summit Carbon Solutions would want Ellingson to document the changes so the company knows where the tile is.

“Two thousand miles of pipeline in 12 to 14 months is a pretty significant challenge, but we’re trying to reduce that window of construction to minimize disruption to landowners in all five states,” Powell said.

The company has yet to secure permits from IUB and from federal agencies such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and United States Fish and Wildlife Service, he said.

He noted that a survey is part of the required information that supports the application of those permits.

“We have to do a biological survey that confirms if you have a wetland or endangered species or something like that that may impact the route,” Powell said. “We also have cultural surveys; Indian artifacts, dinosaur bones.”

The surveys will inform the company on the final route of the pipeline, which has not been set, he said.

The company is willing to work with landowners if they have a location where they don’t want the pipeline to cross their property - but have an alternate location where it would be acceptable.

Powell said the company hopes to have the pipeline operational by the second quarter of 2024.

Byrnes then invited members of the audience to ask questions of him or the Summit Carbon Solutions representatives.

Crawford County Engineer Paul Assman, Board of Supervisors Member Ty Rosburg and several members of the public asked questions.

Read the Tuesday Denison Bulletin for details of the question and answer session of the meeting.

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