CO2 Pipeline: The waiting game

“We just want to see if you know anything more about the pipeline going in,” Clayton Rentschler said, sitting before Moody County Commissioners earlier this month.
Rentschler was there to learn the latest on the proposed Heartland Greenway carbon capture pipeline. The line is currently slated to run south from the Valero ethanol plant in Aurora and through Moody County before it makes its way across four other states to an underground sequestering facility in Illinois.
Rentschler has concerns about the technology that aims to give ethanol plants a near net-zero carbon footprint in the future. He’s paying close attention to how similar pipelines, like the Summit line to the west, are being handled and how Navigator is handling property owners in Iowa who aren’t willing to grant them access to their properties.
He’s not alone.
Here is what is known about the project at this time.
Quietly, discreetly and methodically, officials with the Heartland Greenway carbon capture pipeline project continue to work toward the goal of a new underground pipeline that will originate at the Valero ethanol plant in Aurora and run south through Moody County. As the timeline on the company’s website clearly states, where permits have been granted, workers are conducting field surveys, and environmental and cultural surveys.
The company also reportedly held a virtual forum this past week with affected landowners in Moody County.
Its website shows an application with the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission could come any day. Heartland Greenway had not filed with the state yet at the time the paper went to press on Monday but a spokesman for the line did state that the company intends to stick to its timeline and file with the PUC by the end of the month..
Once an application is filed with the state, the PUC has to hold public hearings on the matter.
If the PUC approves the project, the company would still have to come to the county for a conditional use permit and go through the approval process for that.
A moratorium is in place through next March in Moody County on any new pipeline projects being approved. That moratorium can be extended.
Moody County isn’t alone in imposing a moratorium as similar pipelines are proposed elsewhere across the state.
The county plans in the coming months to revise or put in place new zoning ordinances. These would be in an effort to best protect county residents from any potentially harmful, hazardous or concerning projects moving forward. Public hearings and meetings will be held on the matter.
While there are incredible concerns about the costs, new tax incentives (new Inflation Reduction Act) and the safety and efficacy of carbon capture technology, there is also a lot of hope for the technology should it sincerely be an effective way to limit greenhouse gas emissions. A great deal of research is being done in Wyoming and North Dakota on the process.
Rentschler isn’t certain any of it is worth the risk to human lives, area livestock or the environment. The carbon byproduct that would run underground through the lines has already proven itself dangerous if not deadly. He and others want assurance that our first responders will know how to handle a break in the line, should one ever happen, and who will pay for that training. Rentschler is equally concerned about the county’s water supply. What would happen to the aquifers it would cross in Moody County alone if there were ever a break?
“It’s not a landowner issue, it’s a community issue,” he said.
Rentschler is hoping Moody County communities are paying attention.
There is a community meeting to hear from landowners who are opposed to the CO2 pipeline projects on Thursday, September 29 at the Janklow Community Center in Flandreau. Start time is 6 pm.

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