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Pipeline Pulled

Pipeline through farmland under construction

One of the three multi-state carbon sequestration pipeline projects through parts of the Midwest and Great Plains has been paused, possibly permanently. Navigator CO2 Ventures – a company based in Omaha, Nebraska -- announced that it planned to end its development, which has been underway for months.

“The development of Navigator CO2’s pipeline project has been challenging. Given the unpredictable nature of the regulatory and government processes involved, particularly in South Dakota and Iowa, the Company has decided to cancel its pipeline project. As good stewards of capital and responsible managers of people, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the Heartland Greenway project. We are disappointed that we will not be able to provide services to our customers and thank them for their continued support.”

-- Matt Vining, CEO of Navigator CO2

Environmentalists, regulators and landowners have opposed the projects that Navigator CO2 Ventures, along with Summit Carbon Solutions (based in Ames, Iowa) and Wolf Carbon Solutions (based in Denver, Colorado), have proposed. Each would transport the carbon dioxide emissions (liquified) from ethanol and fertilizer plants through pipelines, which would then empty into underground storage tanks.

The Navigator CO2 Ventures project, estimated by the company to cost $3.5 billion, would have included 1,300 miles of pipeline through five states (South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois). But the pipelines are part of a complicated, years-long process. And the company’s struggles to finalize regulatory approval in the necessary states filled the future with uncertainty.

Pipeline supporters say carbon sequestration could be a vital part of the biofuels industry’s success in the years ahead by trapping the carbon dioxide emissions, rather than allowing them into the environment. They contend the process would also assist ethanol’s ability to become more financially viable as a fuel supply enhancement.

But skeptics have raised concerns about the dangers of potential pipeline leaks from the hazardous liquids during transport, plus whether resistant landowners should be forced by governmental entities to allow access via their properties through the eminent domain process.

--RELATED: Eminent domain is something that Ronnie Richardson, CEO of Mississippi-based National Land Realty, hopes won’t be a part of carbon sequestration pipeline development. The topic was a small part of a far-reaching interview that Richardson did with “Market to Market,” where he also discussed sustainability of farmland values, foreign land ownership and family land disputes among heirs. Watch the full interview here.

Navigator CO2 Ventures said that it would not try to recoup the “hundreds of millions” of dollars that it has already negotiated with landowners for access through their land.

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, a 2024 Republican presidential candidate, praised the potential of pipelines and said that there have been no major issues with another pipeline in his state. See that interview here.

--BACKGROUND: The Summit Carbon Solutions project would travel though Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Minnesota. The company announced that due to numerous setbacks, its official project launch will be delayed two years until 2026.

--BACKGROUND: The Wolf Carbon Solutions proposal would tunnel through Iowa and Illinois. Like Summit, it is dealing with potential regulatory and legal delays. One Iowa county, which sits in the proposed path of the Wolf Carbon Solutions’ concept, passed a two-year moratorium on pipelines.


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