Surprising Decision: Illinois Carbon Pipeline Project Canceled Over Safety Worries

Navigator CO2, a Nebraska-based company specializing in carbon capture and sequestration, has announced the cancellation of its plans to construct a 1,300-mile carbon dioxide pipeline originally intended to run through central Illinois. The project encompassed several hundred miles of pipeline within the state, ultimately concluding at sequestration sites designed to store the greenhouse gas beneath the ground.

Navigator CO2 made this decision shortly after retracting its permit application with the Illinois Commerce Commission, citing the “unpredictable nature” of the regulatory processes associated with permitting such a substantial project. The company had recently encountered challenges, including a permit denial in South Dakota and regulatory uncertainties in Iowa.

In a news release, Navigator CO2 CEO Matt Vining expressed his disappointment at not being able to provide services to their customers, and he extended his gratitude for their support. The project had faced substantial opposition from environmentalists and landowners in Illinois. Concerns primarily revolved around safety issues and the company’s request to employ eminent domain for land acquisition or usage rights if required.

The Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines played a crucial role in organizing opposition to the project, bringing together landowners and several county governments in their cause. Pam Richart, the coalition’s president, regarded this as a successful outcome of their organizing efforts, highlighting the importance of federal funding for carbon sequestration projects. The federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 allocated $12 billion for such initiatives.

Richart indicated that despite Navigator CO2’s withdrawal, other companies might propose similar projects due to the available federal funding and Illinois’ geology, which is conducive to carbon sequestration. Her group remains committed to opposing such projects and advocating for state-level regulations in the carbon sequestration sector.

Currently, state regulators are reviewing a separate proposal by Wolf Carbon Solutions and Archer Daniels Midland Co. to construct a pipeline for transporting carbon dioxide generated as a byproduct of ethanol production and storing it underground in central Illinois.

This project has also faced opposition, sparking discussions about state-level reform. Although the matter is not expected to be addressed in the upcoming legislative session, stakeholders are continuing negotiations with the hope of shaping future legislation.


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