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South Dakota landowners question safety, easements of CO2 pipelines

Livestream and VOD for Dakota News Now
Published: Dec. 29, 2021 at 10:14 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -Reducing carbon dioxide emissions can be seen as a noble effort. The concept of converting CO2 to liquid and sending it to underground storage is a solution for some, and a concern for others.

The company Navigator CO2 says their Heartland Greenway Systems pipeline could reduce CO2 emissions from ethanol and fertilization plants by 50 percent. The CO2 is still created but how it’s processed would be completely different.

Instead of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere, it

would be captured, compressed, dehydrated, liquified, and transported in an underground pipeline. The diameter of the pipe ranges from 6 to 24 inches.

Elizabeth Burns-Thomspon with navigator CO2says it would all be underground.

“We do intend to be at least five feet deep and in many places deeper than that? Our general rule is we want to be below any and all other infrastructure that’s in place,” said Burns-Thomspon.

The final destination, Illinois; deep underground.

“About a mile to a mile and a half underground, where you reach this porous space, the CO2 is injected and then permanently stored,” said Burns-Thomspon.

The best-case scenario, lower carbon emissions, and the hope of a cleaner environment. The worst-case scenario: a breech, pressurized CO2 escaping, robbing oxygen of every living thing in its wake.

In February 2020, a CO2 pipe burst in Yazoo County, Mississippi. Emergency crews struggled to operate their oxygen-deprived vehicle to search for victims. One of the first responders describes finding three individuals exposed to what appeared to be a green fog that had escaped the pressurized pipe.

“All of them were unresponsive, a white foam coming from their nose and their mouth,” said the emergency responder.

After administering oxygen and medical care, all recovered. Approximately 300 people were evacuated.

We asked, what is different with the proposed pipeline and were told the Heartland Greenway pipeline will be deeper, the metal more flexible to adjust to pressure, and a safer content of what’s inside the pipe.

“Looking to have at least 98% pure CO2; and purity is incredibly important to not only a safe operation of the system, but also in the event that there would be any type of unfortunate release,” said Burns-Thomspon.

In Spink County, landowner Ed Fischbach is dealing with surveyors who want to enter his property for the summit carbon solution pipeline. He’s told them to leave. This is not the Heartland Greenway pipeline, but Summit Carbon Solutions. In July Fischbach says he and his neighbors received a letter. Three days letter the surveyors arrived.

“I am not going to take the risk to sacrifice my livestock or my family. This is just too unknown this whole thing to risk having that come through,” said Fischbach.

He is concerned about eminent domain revolving around a for-profit corporation and points to the power poles, natural gas lines, and water pipes on his property he allowed because he believed it to be for the greater good of the community, and the organizations were non-profit.

The project still has to go through all permitting processes with state, county, city, and public utility commissions.

POET ethanol plants have an alternative plan already underway. Their spokesperson says: “POET’s production process allows CO2 to be captured for commercial use, meaning our CO2 can be used in beverage products, dry ice, etc.”

As communities in Brookings, Moody, and Minnehaha counties review the possible Heartland Greenway Pipeline, they are invited to community meetings. On-location events are scheduled in Garretson and Flandreau on January 18th. An online event is on January 25th. The pipeline company still needs to go through the permitting process with city, county, state, PUC, and other regulatory entities.

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