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Navigator CO2 files for Iowa carbon capture pipeline permit

$3.2 billion Heartland Greenway system will cover 810 miles in the state

2 Lisa Selfie December 2020 Headshot

Navigator CO2 Ventures has filed for Iowa state permits to build its Heartland Greenway carbon capture pipeline across the state.

The company’s filing is the first step to beginning construction in Iowa, where the $3.2 billion project is proposed to cover 810 miles in the state, crossing more than a third of Iowa’s counties. While the pipeline is planned to cross five states, Iowa is the second where Navigator has applied for permits.

The Heartland Greenway System is a carbon capture pipeline system expected to be completed in 2025. The pipeline will span 1,300 miles across five Midwest states with nearly 20 receipt points. When finished, the pipeline will be able to transport and sequester up to 15 million metric tons per year.

"The Heartland Greenway is the first substantial, fully integrated CO2 handling system to reach a final investment decision, and we could not be more excited for the path ahead for all stakeholders," said Navigator CEO Matt Vining.

Bioethanol producers and the Heartland Greenway System

Navigator’s Heartland Greenway system will provide carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) services for more than 30 industrial processors across the agriculture and food production value chains, representing over 10 million tons of annual CO2 emissions, including the two largest bioethanol producers in the U.S., in addition to highly efficient single-site production facilities.

In July, POET signed a deal with Navigator to provide POET with CCUS services on Navigator’s Heartland Greenway system.

The system will phase in 18 of POET’s bioprocessing facilities across Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota and is scheduled for operational in-service in 2025.

According to a release from the company, not only will Navigator store 5 million metric tons of POET’s biogenic CO2 annually, but the companies will also work together in the development of a central carbon offset marketplace and carbon use logistics platform.

In March, Navigator also entered into a long-term agreement with Siouxland Ethanol to provide CO2 CCUS on the Heartland Greenway.

Concerns from Iowa officials, landowners

Navigator is the second of three pipeline companies to seek a permit. Summit Carbon Solutions began the process to get a pipeline permit in late January.

In January, ADM and Wolf Carbon Solutions signed a Letter of Intent for construction of a pipeline — developed, owned and operated by Wolf Carbon Solutions — that would allows the capture, compression and transportation of carbon dioxide produced at ADM’s Clinton and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, facilities.

According to the Des Moines Register, Iowa farmers, landowners and state and county officials have opposed the three projects, concerned about the possible use of eminent domain powers.

They've also expressed concern about the safety of the pipelines carrying carbon dioxide, an asphyxiant, and whether the companies would fully restore any damage pipeline construction causes to farmland and underlying drainage systems.

Navigator didn't immediately file a list of the properties where it anticipates needing to use eminent domain. Navigator said it's still working on access with farmers, many of whom have been busy harvesting this year's crops.

Midwest Carbon Express has raised similar concerns

Similar concerns have been made by farmers and concerned citizens in North Dakota over Summit Carbon's $4.5 billion project -- known as the Midwest Carbon Express -- which is expected to span 2,000 miles across five states.

According to NBC News, before Summit can begin construction, scheduled for next August, the company must gain approval from landowners and officials in all five states, including public utility commissions.

Summit says it plans to construct its pipeline with 100% voluntary participation by landowners along the route and will not use their property without the owners’ consent.

Some opponents say the pipelines will fail to provide the promised environmental benefits while receiving huge federal subsidies. Food & Water Watch, a Washington, D.C., environmental group, estimates the three Iowa projects could snag about $40 billion in tax incentives over 12 years.

“Hazardous carbon pipelines like Navigator’s are dangerous scams that stand to make a few out-of-staters wealthy at the expense of a whole lot of Iowans — we are having none of it," said Food & Water Watch Senior Iowa Organizer Emma Schmit in a statement.

Pipeline to provide jobs, environmental benefits, says Navigator

Navigator said in its permit request that its proposed pipeline will provide economic and environmental benefits to Iowa, the nation's largest producer of ethanol and the corn it is largely made from.

According to the Register, the project will create 5,500 construction jobs in Iowa and about 9,200 across the entire project. The company also said the pipeline will allow sequestration of 4.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in Iowa, enough to cut ethanol's carbon footprint by as much as half ― the equivalent of removing 900,000 cars from the road.

About half of Iowa's annual corn crop is used to make the renewable fuel.

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