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A proposed underground pipeline that would transport carbon dioxide (CO2) from ethanol plants and pass through Scott County got the cold shoulder from many Quad Cities area residents on Tuesday night, Dec. 6. Several hundred people attended a public information meeting at the Davenport RiverCenter to hear details on a proposed 280-mile pipeline plan – referred to as the Mt. Simon Hub – that would cross five area counties. The pipeline, if approved, would be capable of carrying 12 million tons of CO2 a year run from the Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) facility in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and end in an underground storage facility at an ADM facility in Decatur, Illinois. If approved, the pipeline would run 36 miles through Scott County and could be in operation by 2025. The proposed route through Scott County begins in the northwest corner of the county and would pass near Big Rock, Dixon, Donahue, go south of Long Grove, Park View and Princeton. The public meeting was hosted by Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) officials, and officials with the company that wants to build the pipeline – Wolf Carbon Solutions, headquartered in Denver, Colorado. During the question-and-answer portion of the meeting, many people said they had great concerns about the project or were opposed to it. “Scott County does not support this pipeline,” said Ken Beck, chairman of the Scott County Board of Supervisors, told the IUB and Wolf Carbon officials at the meeting. Many people in the crowd applauded and cheered after his comment. Mr. Beck added that he and other county officials are concerned about the safety of pipelines, especially the potential damage that could be caused by a pipeline rupture. “A failure of the pipeline would be devastating for small towns,” he added. Mr. Beck and several concerned citizens brought up a recent pipeline failure in the state of Mississippi. On Feb. 22, 2020, a CO2 pipeline operated by Denbury Gulf Coast Pipelines ruptured near Satartia, Mississippi. “The rupture followed heavy rains that resulted in a landslide, creating excessive axial strain on a pipeline weld,” according to a Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration investigation report into the incident. First responders evacuated about 200 people after the rupture. Damages were estimated at near $4 million, the report added. Brian Dockery, a member of the Eldridge City Council, also brought up safety concerns and told officials at the Tuesday meeting that he and the council oppose the pipeline plan. “Those 7,000 people (in Eldridge) matter to me,” he added. Joan Maxwell, who farms with her husband, John (Scott County Board vice chair) near Donahue, Iowa, also said she has concerns about the pipeline. She said she is worried about the lack of accessible information on the project, and many “average citizens” can’t get to the pipeline project data that is only available online. “When people don’t have that information, they start filling in the blanks themselves,” she added. Other speakers raised the possibility that Wolf Carbon would use eminent domain for the economic development project. Eminent domain is the process by which the government may seize private property with proper compensation, but without the owner's consent. Wolf Carbon officials said they have never used eminent domain in past projects and will not use it in this pipeline project. “We’ve never done that. It has never been a tool in my tool box,” Patrick Brierley, vice president of engineering for Wolf Carbon, told the crowd. Also during the meeting, anti-pipeline group members handed out leaflets stating why they believe the project would hurt the state. “These pipelines will carry high-pressure carbon dioxide. This is a poison to all living animals. … Consider Iowa as ‘Ground Zero’ for this battle to keep our land and property rights,” according to part of the leaflet from the organization #NOCARBONPIPELINES. For much of this meeting, Wolf Carbon officials presented their arguments of why a CO2 pipeline would be good for Scott County and the state. Many of those arguments focused on: Wolf Carbon has the experienced employees and expertise to do the project right; the pipeline will help the economy; it will be safe and reliable; and company officials will work hard to protect the environment. “We have a deep bench of experience for this project,” said Nick Noppinger, senior vice president of corporate development with Wolf Carbon. Here are some of the key points Wolf Carbon officials made during the Tuesday meeting:
- Economic impact: 434 jobs will be created in Scott County over an eight-month construction period; $30 million in estimated wages and salaries in the county during this period; $54.7 million in state and local taxes; $306 million in salaries through the state; and $1.1 billion economic impact in the state.
- Safety – “Pipelines are the safest, most reliable and efficient manner of transporting energy products,” according to information presented by Wolf Carbon. There are 2.6 million miles of pipeline in the U.S., and 43,000 miles of pipeline in Iowa. Pipelines make up less than .01% of all transportation incidents in the U.S.
- Environmental stewardship – Wolf Carbon will work with the Iowa and Illinois Departments of Natural Resources to manage the resources along the proposed pipeline.
- Landowner engagement process – The company has selected a two-mile corridor for the pipeline. Landowners will receive a call or an in-person visit from a right-of-way agent. An independent third-party company will conduct land value market studies for each county on behalf of Wolf Carbon.
- Experience: Wolf Carbon has more than three decades of experience of safely developing and operating pipeline systems. “Our team is comprised of established veterans with proven expertise in the pipeline and infrastructure development space and has safely developed thousands of miles of pipeline infrastructure over the past 10 years,” according to information from Wolf Carbon.