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ADM proposes carbon dioxide pipeline, third in Iowa

Agribusiness giant ADM said on Tuesday it would reduce its carbon footprint by building a 350-mile pipeline to transport carbon dioxide for injection in central Illinois from its ethanol plants in eastern Iowa. It was the third carbon dioxide pipeline proposed for Iowa, the No. 1 corn and ethanol producing state.

Carbon capture and sequestration is a relatively new concept that involves injecting the greenhouse gas in subsurface rock formations. ADM, the second-largest ethanol producer in the nation, said its sequestration facility in Decatur, Illinois, has injected more than 3.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a mile-and-a-half underground.

ADM’s pipeline would have capacity for 12 million tonnes a year of the liquefied gas. There will be enough spare capacity, it said, to serve other companies “looking to decarbonize across the Midwest and Ohio River valley.”

A Texas pipeline company, Navigator, has proposed a 1,200-mile pipeline across Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota that would inject carbon dioxide in the same part of central Illinois as ADM’s sequestration facility.

Summit Carbon Systems, led by Iowa businessman Bruce Rastetter, would construct a 2,000-mile pipeline from Iowa to North Dakota.

“ADM is continuing to lead the way to decarbonize the industries in which we operate,” said ADM official Chris Cuddy. ADM’s three plants in eastern Iowa, one in Clinton and two in Cedar Rapids, account for 46% of the company’s ethanol production capacity. There are 43 ethanol plants in Iowa with an annual capacity of 4.6 billion gallons a year out of 209 plants nationwide with a capacity of 17.4 billion gallons a year.

Companies are eligible for tax credits from $12-$50 per tonne of carbon that is captured and sequestered, depending on the type of the project. There are proposals in Congress to increase the credit to as much as $120 per tonne, said Forbes. There also were proposals to abolish the Section 45Q credit.

Each of the pipelines would need approval from the Iowa Utilities Board to proceed, said the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

Carbon capture and sequestration has been lauded as a tool against global warming but the technology is complex and not as efficient as hoped in capturing carbon dioxide from industrial processes, according to research commissioned by two environmental groups.

“Carbon capture is a mirage” because it is expensive and energy intensive, said Food and Water Watch. “The only solution is to rapidly transition to 100% renewable energy in combination with energy efficiency and a less energy-intensive food system.”

The ADM pipeline would be owned and operated by Wolf Carbon Solutions, a carbon capture and pipeline company based in Calgary.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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