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Temporary halt for proposed CO2 pipeline through Illinois
Temporary halt for proposed CO2 pipeline through Illinois

A proposed CO2 pipeline through parts of Illinois is on hold.

The Texas pipeline company Navigator has withdrawn its Application for a Certificate of Authority to build a pipeline to carry liquid carbon dioxide through 13 Illinois counties.

Pam Richart, cofounder of the Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines, said Navigator has not been able to convince landowners in Christian and Montgomery counties that a large repository of CO2 can be safely stored under their farms and land.

“Eighty percent of the landowners in Christian County who are in the sequestration area have refused to sign leases,” Richart said to The Center Square.

Opponents are working closely with Montgomery County to help people there understand the implications and potential risks of injecting and storing large quantities of CO2 in neighboring Montgomery County, Richart said.

About 40 miles of pipeline is proposed to travel through the eastern portion of Knox County, connecting Big River Resources in Galva to London Mills in Fulton County.

The goal of the pipeline project is to transport CO2 from 32 different sites across 1,300 miles to central Illinois where the Cambrian-age Mt. Simon Sandstone Formation overlies the Precambrian granite basement of the Illinois Basin.

Geologists believe concentrated CO2 can be safely injected underground under the Mt. Simon formation in a saline reservoir where it will take 100 years to calcify.

If the CO2 is stored deep under the cap rock in central Illinois, geologists maintain that it will stay there. But there are no guarantees, Richart said.

“We are concerned that they can’t guarantee that the CO2 will stay put and not move,” Richart said.

People fear the CO2 could leak through the well itself. There could be fractures in the cap rock that are not mapped which will allow CO2 to leak.

“The cap rock may be damaged in the process of high-pressure injection of the CO2,” Richart said.

Leaked CO2 has the potential to contaminate local drinking water, Richart said. “When CO2 mixes with water, it creates carbonic acid. That releases heavy metals and toxins from underground that can ruin the local water,” she said.

If leaked CO2 rises to the surface and changes the CO2 levels in the soil, crop yields could be affected, Richart said.

“Plant roots would not be as strong, or as deep and or as dense,” she said.

In Oklahoma and Texas, injection of wastewater in the ground has caused earthquakes, Richart said. Earthquakes would release the CO2 that they want to sequester, defeating the purpose of the effort.

“They say it won’t happen here, but why should we believe them,” Richard said. “It’s happening in places where they are injecting lesser volumes of fluid at lower pressures than they intend to use here.”

And there is the question of the rights of the neighbors, Richart said. One neighbor may agree to have CO2 injected into their land, but the neighbor a mile or two away may not want the risk.

“The CO2 is going to move,” Richart said. “The neighbor will wind up with CO2 under his or her property.”

Navigator said it intends to file a new pipeline application with the Illinois Commerce Commission this month that would specify what route the pipeline will take. Opponents are anxious to see the proposed route, Richart said.