Categories
Writing

CCS Push Back & Climate Change

Field Corn

When we took the land after the 1832 Black Hawk Purchase, it was decimated to make neatly cut rectangles of farmland. People are used to that now. Today Iowa farmland is used mostly as a production landscape for hogs, cattle, corn and beans. For too long, Iowa’s air, water and land have been used like an open sewer to support these operations. Farmers are used to what they know and don’t want to change. That’s true for people besides farmers.

Iowa is not an empty place where someone can do what they want with the land. A utility should not be able to build pipelines and transmission lines, or construct large-scale wind farms and solar arrays with impunity. The current crop of Iowa farmers is possessive of the right to their land and to use it as they see fit. They believe they know better than government what works here and what doesn’t. They don’t want infringement on their rights. The myth of farmers as the original environmentalists persists despite evidence to the contrary.

When solutions to the climate crisis require cooperation between large corporations and Iowa farmers there is resistance.

The new carbon capture and sequestration proposals of Summit Carbon Solutions and Navigator CO2 Ventures will confront these well-established beliefs. Even though a prominent farmer, Bruce Rastetter, is behind Summit, the rollout will follow a path familiar to anyone who knows the history of electricity transmission lines and oil pipelines here. Farmers will push back.

Donnelle Eller of Gannett stated the obvious about Summit in Monday’s Iowa City Press Citizen, “The company, a spinoff of Bruce Rastetter’s Alden-based Summit Agricultural Group, says the project would help ethanol and other energy-intensive ag industries remain viable as the nation seeks to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 to address climate change.” The Iowa governor spoke about a low carbon economy, but failed to mention climate change or how CCS fits in such a framework. This underscores a key problem with CCS. They are just out there and bottom line, it’s backers don’t give a hoot about climate change. It’s another opportunity for capital investment which could yield big profits.

The sides are already lining up for this fight.

Opponents of CO2 pipelines have also been opponents of the Rock Island Clean Line and the Dakota Access Pipeline. Rural Iowans do not speak of one mind on this yet a common theme is big money, not farmers, are behind these transmission schemes. They claim the voices of farmers are not being heard. They also claim climate change is a lie.

What is the purpose of CCS if not to address climate change? That’s the wrong question. These projects are about investing capital to get a return on investment. If the government is a source of start-up capital, more’s the better for investors. The words “climate change” aren’t needed in this transaction.

“The world must reach net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050 in order to achieve the 1.5 degree Celsius global average temperature increase limit,” according to Summit’s website. “A dramatic increase in carbon capture and storage (CCS) is crucial to achieving net-zero CO2 emissions.”

The second sentence is unlikely to be accurate. The problem is Summit and Navigator seek to change nothing about industrial use of fossil fuels. They seek a profit from ethanol plants and other CO2 emitters who keep on doing what they are doing now. CCS has become a gigantic boondoggle instead of a solution to climate change.

“Climate and other environmental and public safety concerns about CO2 pipelines are important,” Ed Fallon wrote in a Nov. 11 email. “But as with Dakota Access Pipeline, in terms of mobilizing the broadest possible coalition of opponents, the strongest argument is the abuse of eminent domain.”

In a filing with the Iowa Utilities Board, Janna Swanson, whose land the Summit pipeline would cross, had this to say about the project and climate change:

There are a whole bunch of plans to mine our tax money for revenue and the excuse is Climate Change. When using that as an excuse then any action against humans is justified.

Summit Carbon Solutions will want the right of eminent domain. They will say that because of Climate Change that their business model is for public use.

When one paints with that wide of a brush then no one’s property is off limits for anything. No one has rights.

Iowa Utilities Board filing ID 4277288 under HLP-2021-0001 by Janna Swanson

Let’s be clear. Summit and Navigator are in the CCS business to make money, as much of it as they can. Comments like Swanson’s are setting up climate change as a talking point instead of the reality of extreme weather it is and that must be dealt with.

It is early in the process yet already many comments have been made to the Iowa Utilities Board regarding the potential CCS proposals of Summit and Navigator. If you’d like to make a comment, here’s the information.

Written comments or objections to the proposed pipeline can be filed electronically using the IUB’s Open Docket Comment Form, by email to customer@iub.iowa.gov, or by postal mail to the Iowa Utilities Board, Attn: Docket No. HLP-2021-0003 (Navigator) and/or Docket No. HLP-2021-0001 (Summit) , 1375 E. Court Ave., Des Moines, IA 50319.

The downside of the CCS approval process is it turns rural Iowans against a second science-based phenomenon. Only 56.5 percent of Iowans are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. There is no inoculation against extreme weather made worse by climate change that Iowans already experience.

The resource page I wrote recently has been updated with new information. Check it out by clicking here.

~ Written for Blog for Iowa

Categories
Environment

Here Comes Carbon Capture Technology

Contains 10 Percent Ethanol

Let’s be clear about Carbon Capture and Sequestration: it is an unproven technology to enable fossil fuel use when society should be turning away and leaving fossil fuels in the ground. Among the problems with the technology is our government supports it to the tune of $8.5 billion in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act recently signed into law by President Joe Biden. There is more money for CCS in the Build Back Better Act as currently written. Why would our government do that?

The answer is a familiar one. Oil, gas and coal interests have too much invested to let go of their extraction and distribution operations. During negotiations between the White House and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, support for CCS was included in both bills. Manchin’s vote was needed to pass the legislation.

In addition to funding CCS technology, the Biden administration appointed a prominent supporter of it, Brad Crabtree, a coal ally and longtime carbon capture advocate, to serve as the Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy and Carbon Management. While negotiations over the infrastructure bills were private, Manchin is said to have had a hand in Crabtree’s nomination. Oil, gas and coal advocates let loose a loud cheer of approval upon the announcement.

The question is whether substantial government investment in CCS via the infrastructure bills was a poison pill for environmentalists. Only a few people are asking that question here in Iowa, and fewer still knew what was in the bills. Inclusion of CCS was apparently not too toxic for environmental hawks in the U.S. Congress as it was accepted as part of the sausage-making process of creating legislation.

The partisan lines are clearly drawn. The Republican view of climate action is “with innovative technologies, fossil fuels can and should be a major part of the global solution.” Most Democrats “support increased domestic renewable energy development, including wind and solar power farms, in an effort to reduce carbon pollution. The party’s platform calls for an ‘all of the above’ energy policy including clean energy, natural gas, and domestic oil, while wanting to become energy independent.” It’s no wonder CCS made it into the first infrastructure law, and will into the second if it is passed by the Congress.

The Iowa governor’s task force on carbon sequestration quickly led to Iowa going all-in on the technology, with two proposed Iowa projects. The Iowa Sierra Club opposes them.

We want real climate solutions – not greenwashing schemes!

Iowa has two new pipeline proposals. Both are centered around Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). The lines would carry captured carbon from ethanol plants. CCS is very complicated but when you boil it down, the basic premise is that it captures the carbon and stores it underground (CCS) or it captures the carbon and uses it for industrial purposes. Both Summit and Navigator pipelines claim that they are going to permanently store the CO2 underground, but we have strong evidence that Summit will use the CO2 for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR). EOR is the process of pumping CO2 into dwindling oil fields to get the last bit of oil out of the ground. The two pipelines in Iowa are being offered as false climate solutions, especially if they will be utilized for enhanced oil recovery and extending the life of coal-fired power plants and the ethanol industry.

We already know the solutions to our climate crisis – we must end our dependence on fossil fuels and invest in solar, wind, battery storage, conservation and efficiency!

Sierra Club website.

Click on this link to learn more about actions you can take to oppose the Iowa CCS projects. Click here to sign the Sierra Club petition on CCS.

Categories
Sustainability

Carbon Capture & Sequestration References

Field Corn

Like it or not, Iowa Republicans have hoodwinked us into a carbon capture and sequestration method of addressing the climate crisis. It is common sense that hooking a polluting ethanol plant, coal-fired electricity generating station, or a propane grain drying operation to a mechanism for carbon capture does nothing to address the root cause of pollution. Nonetheless, here we go.

On June 22, 2021, Governor Kim Reynolds “signed Executive Order 9 launching a task force to explore carbon sequestration and the opportunities it presents for further economic development in the state of Iowa,” according to a press release.

Because of our existing supply chain and emphasis on renewable fuel infrastructure, Iowa is in a strong position to capitalize on the growing nationwide demand for a more carbon free economy. Iowa is a recognized leader in renewable fuel and food production, and this is another opportunity to lead and be innovative, invest in Iowa agriculture, and facilitate new sources of revenue for our agriculture and energy sectors. I am proud to bring together an impressive team of stakeholders that will help formulate smart, commonsense policy recommendations on this issue ahead of the 2022 legislative session.

Governor Kim Reynolds on June 22, 2021

When we talk about the decarbonization imperative across the global economy, carbon capture and sequestration has only limited use. As is typical of statements from the Iowa governor, there was no mention of the climate crisis in the release.

Having been forced to deal with carbon capture and sequestration as a public issue, advocates need references to understand what it is, its consequences, and risks. Below are some links to get started. Expect this post to be updated as new information is found and becomes available.

Carbon Capture and Storage, Center for International Environmental Law.

What is Carbon Capture and Storage?

The Role of Natural Gas Power Plants with Carbon Capture and Storage in a Low Carbon Future, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage comment to California Air Resources Board, Los Angeles Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

The Gassing of Sataria by Dan Zegart, Aug. 26, 2021, HuffPost.

Chevron Concedes Failure at Gorgon.

Summit Carbon Solutions

Public Informational Meetings on the Proposed Summit Carbon Pipeline, Iowa Utilities Board.

Navigator CO2 Ventures LLC.

Public Informational Meetings for Proposed Navigator Pipeline, Iowa Utilities Board.

Bold Iowa

Iowa Sierra Club

Fossil Fuel Industry and Investment in CCS and CCUS.

The Fossil Fuel Industry’s New Rube Goldberg Scheme, Science and Environmental Health Network.

Carbon Capture & Storage: The Facts, Science and Environmental Health Network.

Facts About Carbon Capture and Storage, Sept. 14, 2021, Science and Environmental Health Network.

U.S. House Conservative Climate Caucus

Rational Solutions at COP26, Not Dramatic Alarmism, podcast by Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX02)

Landowners: Know Your Rights About Eminent Domain

Iowa Laws and Rules for pipeline construction:

Chapter 9 - Restoration of Agricultural Lands During and After Pipeline Construction
Chapter 479b - Hazardous Liquid Pipelines and Storage Facilities
IUB FAQs on Eminent Domain https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_fiqcylIzo
IUB Hazardous Pipeline Permitting Process https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1K_w5VzBZ6s

How to submit an objection with the Iowa Utilities Board: 

Written comments or objections to the proposed pipeline can be filed electronically using the IUB’s Open Docket Comment Form, by email to customer@iub.iowa.gov, or by postal mail to the Iowa Utilities Board, Attn: Docket No. HLP-2021-0003 (Navigator) and/or Docket No. HLP-2021-0001 (Summit) , 1375 E. Court Ave., Des Moines, IA 50319. 

Categories
Sustainability

Innovations in the Climate Crisis – CCS

I viewed the S&P Global Market Intelligence discussion between reporter Taylor Kuykendall and Former U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz on Nov. 8. The thirty minute video is worth viewing to hear Moniz on major technologies and technological developments that will help prevent and mitigate the effects of global warming on humans.

Dr. Moniz answered the question I posted in the YouTube chat: “Regarding CCS (carbon capture and sequestration), how important is it to leave sequestered carbon in the ground? If a market for CO2 were developed, would there be an interest in digging it back up?”

He sort of laughed at the idea of “digging it up” as something that would not be done, yet gave an answer I hadn’t expected. There may be engineering applications to use captured CO2 in order to address our goal of net zero emissions by 2050, rather than burying it in geologically stable underground rock formations. This has been a point of contention with opponents to the Summit project.

Summit Carbon Solutions, an Iowa company, has proposed construction of a pipeline to transport liquefied CO2 captured from ethanol plants and other Iowa industrial producers to North Dakota for sequestration. The Iowa Utilities Board approved public hearings in the 30 counties the proposed pipeline would cross. One of the sticking points between activists who oppose the pipeline and the company was about Summit making a written commitment to leave any sequestered carbon in the ground permanently. CEO Bruce Rastetter indicated they would not make such a commitment because markets may be found for captured CO2. Moniz’ comments yesterday indicated such markets are under study and may be developed in order to address the climate crisis.

Is carbon capture and sequestration technology a hero that will help society reach net zero emissions by 2050, or is it a villain that will violate landowner rights and cause more pollution than it prevents? Fossil fuels should be left in the ground.

The highlight of Moniz’ interview for me was that advocates against the Summit Project (or the similar Navigator CO2 Ventures project) have a lack of big picture information about addressing the climate crisis using carbon capture and sequestration technologies. The information has not been readily available.

Ed Fallon of Bold Iowa isn’t perfect. However, he is a veteran of multiple pipeline fights. In a Sept. 23 blog post he outlined his concerns about the Summit project. He claimed Summit plans to use sequestered CO2 for “fracking” instead of sequestering it in the ground. He also claimed Summit wasn’t being transparent about their intentions. Summit denies these claims. Fallon is the right person to engage in a pipeline fight, yet his blog post lacked a depth of understanding of CCS beyond his immediate concerns. Ed could use more information as could we all.

Over the coming weeks, I intend to remedy the lack of accessible information about carbon capture and sequestration. In a series of articles, I will explain what it is, evaluate whether the Summit and Navigator projects are boondoggles designed to skim taxpayer money for the richest Americans, and what plans exist for implementing CCS as a solution to the climate crisis. Hopefully, with a better understanding of the technology and its proposed applications, advocates for and against it will have a better base of information to address the climate crisis. Stay tuned.