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Citizens against CO2 pipeline hold meeting

CO2 Pipeline Protested


(EDINBURG) — Signs opposing the Heartland Greenway Pipeline can be found all throughout Christian County. The one pictured above sits just on the outskirts of Edinburg hastily informing the public of the possible looming threat of the project. The meeting was held Thursday night. See story below for details.

(Lucas Domonousky / Breeze-Courier Photo)

Lucas Domonousky Breeze-Courier Writer

(EDINBURG) — Two Christian County residents and members of the Citizens Against Heartland Greenway Pipeline, Karen Brockelsby and Nicole Lanham, presented information on Thursday, Mar. 16 regarding the Heartland Greenway Pipeline and the storage of CO2. The meeting took place at the Edinburg Community Building with about 25 people in attendance. They focused on the potential threat the pipeline could potentially bring and what action can be taken to prevent such a project from making its way through the county.

What is it?

The Heartland Greenway Pipeline (HGP) is a developing project proposed by their company, Navigator. The organization focuses on providing infrastructure to allow carbon producers to connect with carbon buyers. Navigator’s latest project, HGP, is a pipeline which if constructed would reach the length of 1,300 miles and spans 5 states. The states that could potentially be effected include Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota. The company is prepared to invest $3.4 billion dollars into this project because of the potential profit they envision according to Brockelsby and Lanham.

What harm can it bring?

The pipeline won’t just run through Christian County, it ends here. The CO2 captured will take the 1,300 mile long journey and then will be stored underground in Christian/ Montgomery County.

The presenters eluded to Navigator’s promotion of the ADM well as a hallmark of success.

At the moment, there is only one Class 6 well in the entire United States, located in Decatur just a 45-minute drive up Illinois Route 48. Navigator points to this to further the safety aspect of these projects but there are several differences between the two, they said.

However, the ADM well is a much shorter pipeline at only a couple miles. More pipeline, more risk, Brockelsby and Lanham claimed. They said the well only injects around 500,000 metric tons of CO2 every year, whereas the Heartland Greenway Pipeline plans to inject 15 million metric tons of CO2. That is just 6% of what they are proposing to inject into Christian/ Montgomery County. Higher volumes can create higher pressure which then creates a higher risk of ruptures Brockelsby and Lanham said. They also said no project as ambitious has ever been done at scale like this in the world.

The duo stated CO2 displaces oxygen naturally. If a rupture were to happen it could cause a range of negative health impacts, including suffocation said Brockelsby and Lanham. Because the CO2 is colorless, odorless and heavier than air, an uncontrolled release may spread undetected near the ground or in confined spaces. They referenced the safety risk to these pipelines, pointing to a rupture that took place in Satarita, Miss. in 2020. The event led to a local emergency evacuation and cause the hospitalization of 45 people.

What is Carbon Sequestration?

The other four states don’t have to worry about the Carbon sequestration portion of the Heartland Greenway Pipeline but in Christian/Montgomery counties, it adds another layer. After the carbon dioxide arrives through the pipeline it is injected deep underground. The injection happens 6,400 feet beneath the Earth. The CO2 will be permanently stored inside of the pores of the sandstone located in the crust.

Brockelsby and Lanham said there are risks that come with the storage potion as well. According to the Department of Energy, the risks are broken into three categories: Contamination of Underground Source of Drinking Water (USDW); Contamination of Non- USDW and Physical Damage to surface infrastructure; and/or topography.

Underground contamination of drinking water is the main concern of the presenters. CO2 could contaminate the water source with toxic heavy metals, saline and even acid. This is the “protect the aquifer” potion of the signs seen in and around Christian County.

What is going on now?

Navigator officially filed for the approval of Heartland Greenway pipeline with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) on July 25, 2022. The ICC is a state wide governmental agency which has the final say in whether or not this project is approved or not. Once the application was filed, an 11-month clock started ticking. In January of 2023, Navigator withdrew their application from the ICC as their time was running out. They reapplied the next month, on Feb. 24, 2023, seeking permission to take the land for the pipeline through eminent domain if landowners refuse to cooperate.

According to Brockelsby and Lanham, the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022 increased the amount of tax credits from $50 to $85 for every ton of carbon sequestered, stored and injected. With 15,000,000 metric tons which could potentially be stored annually, that would make Navigator more than $1 billion in tax credits each year. This has caused a multiple company race to get a pipeline in place to cash in on the potential profit, according to Brockelsby and Lanham. The Act also made the credits transferable and directly payable to the developers. Eighteen different companies have applied for the Class 6 Well permits.

In opposition to the project, a newly formed corporation, Citizens Against Heartland Greenway Pipeline, has hired a lawyer to intervene with construction and oppose any sort of eminent domain used in Christian/Montgomery counties. Before an order to intervene before the ICC, a person or group must have legal representation. This was the reason for forming the corporation. The organization hired an attorney out of the Champaign-based law firm Meyer Capel, Joe Murphy, who has been intervening with the ICC since Fall 2022. The intervention is estimated to cost around $100,000. “Christian County has has started to work on an ordinance with the law firm out of Champaign (Meyer Capel),” County Board member Venise McWard said during the Q&A portion of the meeting. “If you’re in Montgomery or Sangamon County, you can copy our ordinance to use for your county as well. We’re here to work together not against each other.”

“I know a lot of people have been to these meetings before but we also saw a lot of new faces.” Citizens Against Heartland Greenway Pipeline member Nicole Lanham said. “Hopefully somebody came away learning a little more than expected. Information is changing all the time with the legislation so it’s important to stay on top of it.”

Brockelsby and Lanham suggested the public can show their opposition to the project by calling or emailing their legislators and tell them you are against Industry Bill HB220. They content there aren’t enough safety standards and it allows for companies to take private property for corporate gain and in turn creates liability over the state at the closure of projects. The public can also support CCUS Bill HB3119, which promotes safer setbacks from homes, opposes eminent domain and holds the CO2 operators liable for damages and any carbon release.

Other actions that won’t cost much include: Writing a public comment on the ICC website. (Long or short, a new one can be submitted daily).

They also encouraged those in attendance to check the Christian County Citizens to Protect the Aquifer on Facebook to stay up-to-date and informed. Donations are also being accepted to “Citizens Against Heartland Greenway Pipeline.”

1 Comment

  1. Connie Marley on March 18, 2023 at 7:43 am

    Everyone in central Illinois needs to look into this planned project. Please don’t just believe everything the company is advertising about being “safe” and “creating jobs”.
    Thank you Karen and Nicole for all your work to educate and protect our communities and rural families.

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