Wolf Carbon Solutions seeks public meetings for proposed liquid carbon dioxide pipeline

350-mile pipeline would connect to ADM plants and run through five Iowa counties, including Linn and Johnson

Wolf Carbon pipeline route
A map showing the proposed route for Wolf Carbon Solution's 350-mile liquefied carbon dioxide pipeline project through Eastern Iowa. CREDIT IOWA UTILITIES BOARD

Wolf Carbon Solutions has requested a series of public informational meetings in five Iowa counties, including Johnson and Linn, as part of their proposal to build a 350-mile pipeline to transport liquefied carbon dioxide from a pair of Eastern Iowa ADM plants to an underground sequestration facility in Illinois.

A docket for the proposed CO2 pipeline has been filed with the Iowa Utilities Board, detailing a proposed pipeline route that would connect ADM plants in Cedar Rapids and Clinton to a terminus near Decatur, Illinois, where the liquefied gas would be sequestered underground.

The pipeline, first proposed in March, would run through the southern portion of Linn County and a small portion of northern Johnson County southeastward through Cedar, Clinton and Scott counties in Iowa, then further eastward to the sequestration site.

The project comprises the third CO2 pipeline proposal in Iowa, joining proposals by Navigator, which wants to build a 1,300-mile pipeline that would run through portions of Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota, and Summit Carbon Solutions, which has proposed a 2,000-mile pipeline that would span counties in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota.

The Navigator project was originally slated to run through several Eastern Iowa counties, but was re-routed after ADM chose to collaborate with Wolf on a carbon pipeline project.

The projects are touted as an environmentally-friendly solution to deal with carbon dioxide emissions from large-scale industrial facilities, but critics question the environmental claims.

In the case of this project, ADM says the pipeline would have the capacity to transport 12 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year from the plants, which would be permanently stored underground at ADM’s existing carbon sequestration site in Decatur, Illinois.The company says the planned pipeline would have significant spare capacity to serve customers looking to decarbonize across the Midwest and Ohio River Valley.

ADM says its carbon capture and sequestration capabilities in Decatur have allowed it to safely and permanently store underground more than 3.5 million metric tons of CO2, paving the way for increased decarbonization of the company’s operations.

A number of objections to the plan have already been filed in the project’s official IUB docket. One filing includes objections from several Sierra Club members, requesting that an environmental impact study be conducted to “understand the cumulative effects the proposed carbon dioxide pipeline projects have on Iowa’s environment” and expressing support for the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska’s request for a similar study.

Other letters point to concerns about land acquisition for the project and hazards associated with possible pipeline ruptures.

“Construction by Wolf Carbon Solutions is likely to do permanent damage to Iowa’s legacy, its rich farmland,” wrote Anne Silander of Iowa City. “This will include damage to drainage tiles, soil compaction, polluted soil, [and] loss of farmland to Iowans through eminent domain. This presents unacceptable losses and costs to Iowa taxpayers.”

In January, the Linn County Board of Supervisors submitted to the IUB its formal opposition to using eminent domain to obtain right-of-way easements for the Summit and Navigator projects.

Wolf has requested the following schedule for county-wide public information meetings on the project:

  • Linn, Sept. 13, noon
  • Johnson, Sept. 13, 6 p.m.
  • Cedar, Sept. 14, noon
  • Clinton, Sept. 14, 6 p.m.
  • Scott, Sept. 15, noon
  • Virtual, Sept. 15, 6 p.m.

Any company wishing to build a CO2 pipeline in Iowa must petition to receive a permit from the Iowa Utilities Board, and cannot seek such a permit until at least 30 days after the final public information meeting, IUB officials said.

Other details of the application process, as outlined by the IUB:

  • The purpose of informational meetings is to provide landowners with information about the proposed project and about the IUB’s procedures, not to receive evidence on the project’s merits.
  • At informational meetings, a representative of the IUB presents a summary of the legal rights of affected landowners, and a representative of the company explains the proposed project.
  • After both presentations there will be a question-and-answer portion where those in attendance are able to ask questions.
  • Wolf cannot begin right-of-way (easement) negotiations with landowners in a county until an informational meeting has been declared complete in that county.  The IUB does not review or have a role in the easement negotiation process entered into voluntarily between the landowner and the company.
  • Informational meetings are not public evidentiary hearings.
  • After the petition for a license is filed and has been reviewed for compliance with Iowa Code requirements, the IUB holds a public hearing to evaluate the proposed pipeline. At the hearing, the IUB hears evidence in favor of or opposing the proposed pipeline.  After the hearing, the IUB will review all evidence and testimony and issue its decision order, which could grant the permit, grant the permit with modifications, or deny the permit.