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Summit Carbon Solutions touts pipeline easement milestone in Iowa

Iowa-based Summit Carbon Solutions says its $4.5 billion pipeline project will help ethanol plants lower their carbon score. The project aims to capture greenhouse gas emissions and pipe the CO2 to western North Dakota for underground storage.

Summit Carbon Solution logo
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AMES, Iowa — Summit Carbon Solutions says it has reached a major milestone as it pushes ahead on its carbon capture pipeline project.

The Iowa-based company says it has worked with 800 Iowa landowners to sign 1,400 easement agreements totaling nearly 350 miles. The company says it has agreements for more than half of the proposed route in the state.

Summit says it remains on track to begin construction on the 2,000 mile, five-state pipeline in the third quarter of 2023.

The company is partnering with 32 ethanol plants across the Midwest, including 12 in Iowa, to develop a pipeline that will store carbon underground in western North Dakota.

Fairmont ethanol plant
The Green Plains ethanol plant in Fairmont, Minnesota, shown on March 11, 2022, is one of 32 plants that has signed on to the Summit Carbon Solutions carbon capture pipeline project.
Jeff Beach / Agweek

The greenhouse gas captured from the ethanol plants will help the plants thrive by opening up access to markets with low carbon fuel standards, such as California and Canada.

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Summit says about 40% of all the corn grown in the United States and remains a key driver of commodity prices and land values.

LeeBlank.jpg
Lee Blank, CEO of Summit Carbon Solutions
Courtesy of Summit Carbon Solutions

“From the outset of our project, Summit Carbon Solutions has been committed to partnering with landowners to open new economic opportunities for ethanol producers and strengthen the agricultural marketplace for farmers,” Summit Carbon Solutions CEO Lee Blank said in a news release. “Securing easement agreements for more than 50% of the proposed route in Iowa clearly demonstrates the momentum behind our project and the growing recognition that carbon capture, transportation and storage projects will enhance our economy, improve environmental outcomes, and generate new sources of revenue for local communities.”

Summit says the Midwest Carbon Express pipeline is a $4.5 billion project, with a $1 billion investment in Iowa alone. Other states on the route are Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota.

So far, Summit has filed for permits in Iowa and South Dakota.

The carbon capture project also is being met with some resistance from landowners in the path of the proposed pipeline.

Jessica Mazour of the Sierra Club in Iowa has been helping organize landowner resistance.

"Summit can tout whatever false appearance of support that they want, but they’ve shown us time and time again that we cannot believe anything they say," Mazour said in an email. "The truth is that 80% of the counties on the Summit route have objected to the pipeline project and over 95% of the filings in the Iowa Utilities Board docket are objections. Until they are done filing their eminent domain list, we should not believe any of their uncited propaganda."

Some landowners even refusing to even let survey crews from the pipeline company onto their land.

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Court records in North Dakota indicate SCS Carbon Transport has sued 23 property owners in North Dakota.

Some county governments also have taken action in opposition to the pipeline and the potential use of eminent domain to secure easements, including changing permit requirements in Emmons County, North Dakota.

More carbon capture coverage
Iowa-based Summit Carbon Solutions says its $4.5 billion pipeline project will help ethanol plants, including the Green Plains Ethanol plant at Fergus Falls, Minnesota, lower their carbon scores. The project aims to capture greenhouse gas emissions and pipe the CO2 to western North Dakota for underground storage.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will invest nearly $3 billion in projects to reduce climate-harming emissions from farming and forestry, tripling the funding it had initially envisioned for the program, the agency announced on Wednesday, Sept. 14.
Summit Carbons Solutions has described its five-state, 2,000 mile carbon capture pipeline as being a $4.5 billion project. The project aims to capture greenhouse gas emissions and pipe the CO2 to western North Dakota for underground storage. But some landowners in the path of pipeline are unwilling to even let pipeline survey crews onto their property.

Summits says it will support the ag economy and cites a study by accounting firm Ernst & Young that shows Summit Carbon Solutions will pay an average of $1.2 million in new property taxes annually to every Iowa county where the project is located.

Summit Carbon Solutions says it has signed easement agreements with more landowners over the past four weeks than any other comparable timeframe since the project was announced in 2021. It lists O’Brien, Pottawattamie, Floyd, Crawford, Chickasaw, Greene, and Boone counties where more than 70% of the proposed route has been secured. Summit says it has distributed more than $80 million in easement payments to Iowa landowners.

“Summit Carbon Solutions is incredibly encouraged by the number of landowners who have signed easement agreements to help advance our carbon capture, transportation, and storage project,” Blank said in a news release. “We look forward to continuing to meet directly with Iowans to discuss this critical investment, answer their questions, and work together to advance the ethanol and agricultural industries that are so critical to our state and region.”

Reach Jeff Beach at jbeach@agweek.com or call 701-451-5651 (work) or 859-420-1177.
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