TAYLORVILLE — Guest speaker Nicole Lanham, far right, discussed a proposed pipeline at the September meeting of the University Women of Christian County. Also pictured are club president Jenny Moats, left, and first vice-president Carol Alexander, center.
TAYLORVILLE – Christian County could soon become “a trash bin for the Midwest,” predicted guest speaker Nicole Lanham at the Sept. 6 meeting of the University Women of Christian County. Lanham, an Edinburg farm wife and mother of two sons, delivered a grassroots message aimed at a new reality: the challenge of global warming has come home to Christian County. Buoyed by her own and other research, she represents the proudly partisan Citizens Against Heartland Greenway and Citizens of Christian County to Protect the Aquifer.
At issue is a clash between self-proclaimed green innovators and warriors like former grade school teacher Lanham, who protest churning up some of the world’s best farmland with pipelines and pumps to store carbon dioxide (a global warming villain). Stating her case in a crowded room of University Women at Whit’s End restaurant, Lanham looked out on an assemblage that admittedly knew little or nothing about both sides of controversial proposals targeting thousands of acres in their midst.
She explained a project called Heartland Greenway wants to build a 1,300-mile-long pipeline across Illinois and four other Midwest states to transport liquid carbon dioxide from ethanol and fertilizer plants along the route. The destination would be Christian County, where the factory by-product would be pumped into six injection sites (monitored by wells) scattered on farmland. The fluid would be permanently stored or “sequestered” in rock and sandstone a mile below the topsoil. A geological neighbor would be the aquifer, a prime water source.
(Online information provided by Heartland Greenway cites reduction of carbon footprints as a major environmental benefit going forward, along with “longevity for biofuel production and a positive economic impact for farmers supplying corn and soybeans to the facilities along Heartland Greenway.” The project itself is described as “one of the first large- scale, commercially viable carbon capture projects to be developed in the United States.”)
The projected storage of 15 million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year under area farmland so alarms Lanham that she equated the county’s future to a “trash bin.” Blaming federal government financial incentives for “green” projects, she demanded, “When all is considered for the safety of humans, animals, crops, property, and water … is the project really environmentally sound?”
Specifically, she listed possible pipeline hazards as leakage, explosions, fluctuating pressure, and serious injury to workers and first responders from potentially lethal carbon dioxide. Other concerns she noted included seepage into the aquifer, impact on property values, and exercise of eminent domain by developers.
Lanham explained that the Illinois Commerce Commission will make the final decision on the pipeline and both federal and state environmental agencies govern the sequestration process. She urged listeners to reach out to the Christian County Board for support and to erect yard signs. Montgomery County is thought to be an option if Christian County protesters succeed, she said, noting her concerns would apply there as well.
UWCC is a community- based organization that gives scholarships to women of Christian County. For membership information, please contact a member. Jenny Moats is president; Carol Alexander is first vice-president; Pat Schneider, second vice-president; Karen Palmer, treasurer, and Merle Markwell, secretary.