Let’s be clear about Carbon Capture and Sequestration: it is an unproven technology to enable fossil fuel use when society should be turning away and leaving fossil fuels in the ground. Among the problems with the technology is our government supports it to the tune of $8.5 billion in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act recently signed into law by President Joe Biden. There is more money for CCS in the Build Back Better Act as currently written. Why would our government do that?
The answer is a familiar one. Oil, gas and coal interests have too much invested to let go of their extraction and distribution operations. During negotiations between the White House and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, support for CCS was included in both bills. Manchin’s vote was needed to pass the legislation.
In addition to funding CCS technology, the Biden administration appointed a prominent supporter of it, Brad Crabtree, a coal ally and longtime carbon capture advocate, to serve as the Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy and Carbon Management. While negotiations over the infrastructure bills were private, Manchin is said to have had a hand in Crabtree’s nomination. Oil, gas and coal advocates let loose a loud cheer of approval upon the announcement.
The question is whether substantial government investment in CCS via the infrastructure bills was a poison pill for environmentalists. Only a few people are asking that question here in Iowa, and fewer still knew what was in the bills. Inclusion of CCS was apparently not too toxic for environmental hawks in the U.S. Congress as it was accepted as part of the sausage-making process of creating legislation.
The partisan lines are clearly drawn. The Republican view of climate action is “with innovative technologies, fossil fuels can and should be a major part of the global solution.” Most Democrats “support increased domestic renewable energy development, including wind and solar power farms, in an effort to reduce carbon pollution. The party’s platform calls for an ‘all of the above’ energy policy including clean energy, natural gas, and domestic oil, while wanting to become energy independent.” It’s no wonder CCS made it into the first infrastructure law, and will into the second if it is passed by the Congress.
The Iowa governor’s task force on carbon sequestration quickly led to Iowa going all-in on the technology, with two proposed Iowa projects. The Iowa Sierra Club opposes them.
We want real climate solutions – not greenwashing schemes!
Iowa has two new pipeline proposals. Both are centered around Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). The lines would carry captured carbon from ethanol plants. CCS is very complicated but when you boil it down, the basic premise is that it captures the carbon and stores it underground (CCS) or it captures the carbon and uses it for industrial purposes. Both Summit and Navigator pipelines claim that they are going to permanently store the CO2 underground, but we have strong evidence that Summit will use the CO2 for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR). EOR is the process of pumping CO2 into dwindling oil fields to get the last bit of oil out of the ground. The two pipelines in Iowa are being offered as false climate solutions, especially if they will be utilized for enhanced oil recovery and extending the life of coal-fired power plants and the ethanol industry.
We already know the solutions to our climate crisis – we must end our dependence on fossil fuels and invest in solar, wind, battery storage, conservation and efficiency!Sierra Club website.
Click on this link to learn more about actions you can take to oppose the Iowa CCS projects. Click here to sign the Sierra Club petition on CCS.
I suspect that one reason for the federal approval of the Iowa ethanol carbon pipeline boondoggle, as well as the generous tax subsidies that the boondoggle will be able to collect, is the general Democratic desperation to appeal to rural voters. But I can pretty much guarantee that the majority of farmers in the rural townships of my county wouldn’t vote Democratic even if the Democratic Party provided gold nuggets for use as driveway gravel.
Meanwhile, thousands of Iowa landowners are about to find out that the pipelines are slated to run through their land. I might be one of them.. And the Iowa IUB will almost certainly provide the pipeline companies with the power to use eminent domain. Elections have consequences.
At the local pipeline meeting I attended, it was clear that some landowners are not at all happy about the prospect of having the pipeline rammed down their throats.. If anyone thinks the pipeline companies won’t use eminent domain if it is provided, I have a fabulous rural bridge for sale.
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Thanks for reading my post. If the CCS portions of the infrastructure bills were intended to interest rural residents, it failed already. Farmers on the pipeline route (which is not finalized) don’t like tax dollars being used for CCS, wind generation, solar arrays, or transmission lines. They also do not believe climate change is real. I believe it is what I said in the post. Democrats needed Joe Manchin to vote for the bills and that led to this and other concessions to the oil, coal and gas producers.