Opinion | The carbon capture pipeline needs to go through

The proposed carbon-capture pipeline has long-term benefits for Iowa.


Chris Klepach, Opinions Columnist

Have any plans down the pipeline?

In December 2022, three companies — Summit Carbon solutions, Navigator Heartland Greenway, and Wolf Carbon Solutions —  proposed a $4.5 billion pipeline. This project will stretch three pipelines across Iowa with the goal of reducing the carbon emissions from Golden Grain Energy through carbon-capture.

The proposal entails pressurizing carbon dioxide into a liquid state before transportation using pipelines. The liquid CO2 will be used later for manufacturing or stored underground.

This will allow ethanol producers to operate with a “net zero” carbon footprint. Jake Ketzner, SCS vice president of governmental and public affairs, has spoken of the immediate benefits.

“We cut their [Golden Grain Energy] carbon intensity in half as soon as we turn that switch on,” Ketzner said during a Summit pipeline group meeting, reported by the Globe Gazette.

In Iowa, 30 counties will be impacted by the project. Notably, the Navigator pipeline will stretch from Lee County in southeast Iowa to Lyon County in the northwest.

The controversy lies in eminent domain. Eminent domain is the power of a state or the government to turn private property public. This is often used in transportation or environmental affairs.

60 percent of land in Iowa that was privately owned granted easements to the state for the project.

Kim Junker, a landowner in New Hartford, criticized the project at a town hall meeting with Iowa Speaker of the House Pat Grassley, according to KPVU news.

“Something needs to change in the state,” Junker said during the meeting. “Companies are building these projects, and it’s all about the massive tax subsidies. We are destroying prime farm ground, destroying rural Iowa–and it’s all very short-sighted.”

However, the long-term impact of supporting ethanol with this pipeline is worth considering. Iowa is the leading producer of ethanol in the country, providing 30 percent of all U.S. ethanol. Reducing the carbon footprint of industry large in Iowa would make a difference.

According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources inventory report, Iowa released 126.16 million metric tons of CO2 in 2021. This is a 5.44 percent increase from the year prior. 66 percent of all emissions from Iowa were CO2. By economic sectors, the leading source of emissions is agriculture, accounting for 29 percent of all emissions.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources also compares Iowa to other states on the letterhead.

“Agricultural emissions account for a greater percentage of GHG emissions in Iowa than in the total U.S., which is logical given Iowa’s substantial agricultural economy,” the report states.

The financial viability of the pipeline comes from U.S. Tax code 45Q. Tax code 45Q was created in 2008 as part of the Energy Improvement and Extension Act. With this, the federal government pays $20 for each ton of CO2 properly disposed of.

This pipeline would keep our energy industry competitive with the rest of the country. Most importantly, this proposed carbon-capture pipeline can be key to keeping Iowa friendly to the environment.

If we can reach agreements between local and state interests to establish the pipeline under good terms, it will be a boon for environmental conservation which we should all strive toward.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.