The language used by supporters of carbon capture and sequestration in Iowa is very specific. Not only doesn’t it include the words “climate change,” it specifically avoids mentioning it. This is a long-standing practice among major agricultural groups.
As mentioned last week, Iowa is primarily a production landscape for hogs, cattle, corn and beans where our water, air and land have been and continue to be used like an open sewer. The major agricultural groups are the Iowa Pork Producers Association, the Cattlemen’s Association, the Iowa Corn Growers Association, and the Iowa Soybean Association. Agricultural Iowa is about business at a distance from the meme farmers are the original environmentalists. To them, carbon capture is about business, not reducing greenhouse gas emissions or stewardship of the environment.
Representatives of these agricultural associations showed up in Mount Pleasant, Iowa during the 2012 drought. Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds heard their report. The words “climate change” were absent from public discussion of the drought.
The eight hundred pound gorilla in the Mount Pleasant High School Gymnasium today was the subject of climate change. Governor Terry Branstad called for a public discussion on drought conditions in Iowa and all of the governmental players were there: USDA, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the Farm Services Administration. The phrase “climate change,” or any analysis of causation for the current drought was absent from the public discussion. This was a meeting about row crop agriculture and related agricultural producers and it was intended to deal with the as-is situation. The obvious problem, as Mark Schouten of Homeland Security and Emergency Response put it, “you can’t snap your fingers and make it rain.”Paul Deaton, Blog for Iowa July 17, 2012.
The eight hundred pound gorilla has returned to Iowa as the Iowa Utilities Board hears the case for Summit and Navigator to implement carbon capture and sequestration systems which include hundreds of miles of buried pipeline. The language is familiar in its avoidance of discussion of climate change.
On Monday, Rep. Chuck Isenhart attended a public information meeting held by the Iowa Utilities Board for the Navigator project in Manchester. He used Twitter to relay news from the meeting. If landowners were most concerned with restoration of land productivity in the event the CO2 pipeline crossed their property, following is a main point about the absence of climate change from the discussion:
While the project as proposed would offset the CO2 equivalent of 34.7 million barrels of oil annually, according to Isenhart, “No meaningful impact on PPM atmospheric CO2 anticipated from project.” What is the project about if not reducing greenhouse gases like CO2? “Economic competitiveness of ethanol and fertilizer producers.”
States like California and Oregon have already begun to move toward a low carbon economy, including debate on whether ethanol is a “low carbon fuel.” Let me settle it this way. Summit and Navigator are spending more than a billion dollars to ship condensed CO2 from ethanol and fertilizer plants and bury it deep geological formations. Seems like a lot of carbon dioxide production to me. Why are they doing that?
In a July 2021 letter to President Joe Biden, a group of 70 ethanol producers pledged to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The main method is carbon capture and sequestration. Why send it?
- The delay by the Biden administration in release of volume requirements in the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2021 and 2022.
- The ethanol industry suffered major setbacks in court with the loss of year-round E15 and at the Supreme Court on a small-refinery exemptions case.
- In response to policies like the Renewable Fuel Standard, California Low Carbon Fuel Standard, and Oregon Clean Fuels Program.
- President Biden rejoined the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The debate among environmentalists is whether a decarbonized economy reaches net zero emissions or zero emissions. In either case, pairing ethanol and fertilizer production with CCS doesn’t meet the requirements.
The more study of the matter, the clearer it becomes that the Summit and Navigator projects are about making ethanol “competitive” should the economy decarbonize. It is a big hedge against a government directive to eliminate the financial and policy incentives to produce corn for ethanol.
Opposing production of corn ethanol is not a popular position in Iowa because more than half of corn raised is feed stock for ethanol. However, it is the right position.
Monday I was a guest on the Fallon Forum discussing Iowa CCS projects. Click here to view. I’m at the 32:30 mark.