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An Iowa approval marks progress for the Midwestern carbon dioxide pipeline project, yet significant challenges remain ahead

Opponents of Summit Carbon Solutions (Via Amelia Walker/Shutterstock)

On Tuesday, Iowa’s public utility regulators approved a controversial pipeline designed to transport carbon dioxide emissions, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. This decision is seen as a victory for Summit Carbon Solutions’ project, which faced challenges in other states and opposition from Midwest landowners.

However, Summit still needs to navigate several regulatory hurdles before construction can commence in Iowa, including obtaining approvals from other states.

The $5.5 billion pipeline network, spanning 2,500 miles, will transport compressed CO2 emissions from over 50 ethanol plants across Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The gas will be stored deep underground in central North Dakota as part of efforts to mitigate climate impact.

Property rights matter, no CO2 board (Via Harry Walker/Shutterstock)

Farmers and the ethanol industry view the pipeline as crucial for qualifying for federal tax incentives, particularly to expand the market for cleaner aviation fuel. Corn, a leading crop in the Midwest, plays a significant role in Iowa’s economy as a top producer of corn and ethanol.

Monte Shaw, Executive Director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, highlighted the potential economic benefits, stating that carbon capture and storage could boost Iowa’s economy by meeting the demands of major airlines aiming to reduce carbon emissions in aviation fuel.

Summit CEO Lee Blank expressed satisfaction with the regulatory approval, emphasizing the project’s positive impact.

Opponents of the project, including many landowners, are concerned about potential land seizures for the pipeline and the risks associated with a CO2 leak in case of a pipeline rupture. A coalition opposing Summit’s project has vowed to challenge the Iowa board’s decision.

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