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Ethanol industry dealt blow as major carbon pipeline canceled

Navigator CO2 announced on Friday the company is canceling its 1,300-mile carbon pipeline, following several delays and obstructions to one of the biggest carbon pipeline projects in the Midwest.

The $3 billion proposed pipeline, which was planned to run through South DakotaNebraskaIowa, Minnesota, and Illinois, was supposed to carry carbon dioxide emissions from more than 20 industrial plants — mostly ethanol and fertilizer hubs across the Midwest — and transport the emissions to Illinois for underground sequestration. However, a number of setbacks hindered the project, including the inability to obtain the necessary permits to build the project on private land.

“As good stewards of capital and responsible managers of people, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the Heartland Greenway project,” Matt Vining, CEO of Navigator CO2, wrote in a statement. “We are disappointed that we will not be able to provide services to our customers and thank them for their continued support.”

The company pointed to the “unpredictable nature of the regulatory and government processes,” specifically within South Dakota and Iowa, as reasons for why the pipeline was being canceled. Just last month, South Dakota regulators denied the company from receiving a permit — and since then, Navigator has asked Iowa state utility regulators to suspend its permitting process and moved to withdraw its permit application in Illinois. Following the uncertainty created by the setbacks, Navigator CO2 announced last Tuesday that they would put the project on hold before announcing the cancellation on Friday.

Pipeline opponents have argued that the project would pose safety risks to residents in the cause of the rupture and would potentially harm farmland.

The move to cancel the pipeline was also cheered by environmentalists. NGO Food & Water Watch called the project a “dangerous, wasteful scheme” that prolongs the lifespan of polluting industries.

“While the federal government keeps trying to waste billions of dollars to promote these massive carbon pipelines, grassroots organizing is winning the fight to stop these egregious handouts to corporate polluters,” said Emily Wurth, the organization’s managing director. “Instead of throwing away money supporting polluters, the government should invest in proven clean energy solutions, not carbon capture pipe dreams.”

Trade groups, such as the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, lamented the loss of the project, which they argue would have met carbon goals for the U.S. while boosting the agricultural markets.

“CCS is the essential key to unlocking the 100-billion-gallon sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) market for agriculture, in the long term. If realized, the SAF market would trigger the largest rural economic boom since the introduction of corn hybrids,” Executive Director Monte Shaw wrote in a statement. ”While we respect Navigator’s decision, IRFA will continue to support multiple other CCS projects and we expect ultimate success.”

The project was also backed by BlackRock, which partnered with Navigator and Valero Energy Corporation to develop the carbon capture pipeline.

A similar but separate proposal from Summit Carbon Solutions to build a carbon sequestration pipeline through South Dakota and other states is still active. However, the project’s permit application had been denied in South Dakota – and in response, the company has stated its intentions to change its route and reapply.


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