BISMARCK, N.D. — A company on Friday said it would cancel its plans for a 1,300-mile (2,092-kilometer) pipeline across five Midwestern states that would have gathered carbon dioxide emissions from ethanol plants and buried the gas deep underground.
Navigator CO2 Ventures’ Heartland Greenway project is among a handful of similar ventures supported by the renewable fuels industry and farming organizations, but opposed by many landowners and environmental groups who question their safety and effectiveness in reducing climate-warming gases.
In a written statement, the company said the “unpredictable nature of the regulatory and government processes involved, particularly in South Dakota and Iowa” were key to the decision to cancel the project.
Navigator’s pipeline would have carried planet-warming CO2 emissions from more than 20 plants across Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota for permanent storage deep underground in Illinois.
Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw said carbon capture projects are “the best way to align ethanol production with the increasing demand for low carbon fuels both at home and abroad.” The association saw the Navigator pipeline as an opportunity to open up markets for sustainable aviation fuel for ethanol producers, spokeswoman Emma Koehler told The Associated Press.
“It is not an overstatement to say that decisions made over the next few months will likely place agriculture on one of two paths. One would lead to 1990s stagnation as corn production exceeds demand, and the other opens new market opportunities larger than anything we’ve ever seen before,” Shaw said in a statement.
Navigator earlier this month withdrew its application for a crucial permit in Illinois, and also said it was putting all of its permit applications on hold. Those moves came after South Dakota public utilities regulators denied Navigator a construction permit in September.
The pipeline would have used carbon capture technology, which supporters tout as a combatant of climate change, with federal tax incentives and billions of dollars from Congress, making such efforts lucrative. But opponents question the technology at scale, and say it could require bigger investments than less expensive alternatives such as solar and wind power.
CO2 pipelines have faced pushback from landowners, who fear a pipeline rupture and that their land will be taken from them for the projects.
Pipeline opponents welcomed Navigator’s announcement Friday.
“Everyone said we have no chance against foreign-backed, multibillion-dollar hazardous pipelines but when hundreds of landowners band together with a unified legal strategy, we can win,” said Brian Jorde, an Omaha-based attorney who represents many landowners opposed to Midwestern pipeline projects.
Regulatory panels in North Dakota and South Dakota dealt blows to Summit Carbon Solutions’ proposed $5.5 billion, 2,000-mile (3,219-kilometer) interstate pipeline network. The system would carry CO2 emissions from more than 30 ethanol plants in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota, to be buried deep underground in central North Dakota.
North Dakota regulators denied Summit a siting permit, but granted the company’s request for reconsideration. The South Dakota panel denied the company’s permit application, but Summit intends to reapply.
Iowa regulators this month suspended a weekslong hearing for Summit’s project, set to resume next month. Minnesota regulators are proceeding with an environmental review for a small part of Summit’s project.
In a written statement released after Navigator’s announcement, Summit said it “welcomes and is well positioned to add additional plants and communities to our project footprint.”
“We remain as committed to our project as the day we announced it,” the company said.