Fight launched over proposed carbon pipeline

By Kevin Beese Staff Writer

Daurice Coaster, a resident of the south side of Peoria, speaks in May at a press event in Des Moines, Iowa in opposition to CO2 pipelines. (Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance photo)

A pipeline carrying carbon dioxide has been proposed to run through Central Illinois communities.

The proposed Mount Simon Hub project would run through portions of Peoria, Tazewell, DeWitt, Henry, Logan, Macon, Rock Island and Stark counties. It would capture CO2 onsite at ADM ethanol plants in Cedar Rapids and Clinton, Iowa and transport it to a sequestration site in Central Illinois where the CO2 would be permanently stored underground in the Mount Simon Sandstone geological formation.

Once fully operational, the Mount Simon Hub would be capable of transporting 12 million tons of CO2 per year.

The proposal is pending before the Illinois Commerce Commission; and, if approved, could mean the proponent, Wolf Carbon Solutions, taking land easements via eminent domain from Central Illinois homeowners.

“A CO2 pipeline is not a gas or oil pipeline. There is no consumer benefit, said Joyce Harant, an opponent of the project. “We are not getting gas for our cars or heating our homes. This is all for tax credits and hundreds of millions of dollars.

“It’s like the Wild Wild West. They are rushing to build this infrastructure for profits. They frame it as helping protect the environment. This project is not that.”

Harant, a Peoria resident, is part of Citizens Against Predatory Pipelines, which has been opposing the project since being made aware of it in Spring 2022.

The proposed project spur would run south of Pekin, up Route 24, and along the Illinois River.

“This is a false solution,” Harant said. “The federal government has made carbon dioxide into a profit center. We are looking at thousands of miles of pipelines, much of it injected into Central Illinois.”

Harant said CAPP members have been fielding frantic calls from area residents who have been getting letters about the possibility of eminent domain as a result of the project.

“The letter makes it appear that it is a done deal, that Wolf Carbon Solutions is getting the easements,” Harant said. “It is frightening people. They are very scared as to what might happen.”

She said the health risks from a potential CO2 leak far outweigh any benefits.

Nick Noppinger, senior vice president of corporate development at Wolf, said that Central Illinois is home to one of the world’s most-prolific geological formations that will allow CO2 to be safely and permanently stored deep underground.

“The Mount Simon Hub is a world-class carbon capture and storage system that would harness the full potential of this area to help achieve regional, national, and global carbon reduction goals through industrial decarbonization,” Noppinger said. “Wolf has a proven track record of safely building and operating North America’s only third-party carbon capture and transport system … We have had discussions with Illinois stakeholders for the past two years to showcase our experience and solicit feedback. We look forward to strengthening our partnership with community members … .

“We are excited at the opportunity to work with ADM on this project. Recognized as a world leader in the implementation of (carbon capture and storage) technologies, ADM brings more than 10 years of experience safely operating CO2 sequestration wells, and the Wolf team has a wealth of expertise building and operating CO2 pipeline systems. We are excited to demonstrate how to successfully decarbonize a range of industries throughout the Midwest.”

Noppinger said that Wolf is also enthusiastic about its relationship with Richland Community College, which boasts a facility and curriculum dedicated to carbon capture and sequestration led by David Larrick.

“We encourage all students interested in helping reduce carbon emissions with cutting edge technology to learn more about the Wolf Carbon Solutions Scholarship offered to Richland students,” Noppinger said.

Harant of Citizens Against Predatory Pipelines advised residents to have no interaction with Wolf Carbon Solutions at this time.

“Our main message to landowners getting letters is do not sign anything,” Harant said. “You do not have to sign anything. There is no rush. Do not let them on your property.”

She noted that the Navigator pipeline, another proposed CO2 project in Illinois, did not get the support of Illinois Commerce Commission staff because 85 percent of the land was to be acquired via eminent domain.