Summit Carbon Solutions is a newly-formed, privately-held company based in Iowa proposing to build a $4.5 billion, 2,100-mile pipeline system and carbon capture and storage (CCS) project, which would tap CO2 emissions from Midwest ethanol plants and transport them via pipeline across five states to an underground sequestration site in North Dakota.
It is a sister company to CEO Bruce Rastetter’s Summit Agricultural Group, which holds hog confinement operations in the Midwest and an ethanol plant in Brazil, and includes a $300 million agriculture investment fund.
According to the Des Moines Register, among the other local controversies that Rastetter’s various business ventures have generated: “As founder of Agrisol Energy Corp., Rastetter pursued a deal with the Tanzanian government that would have used Iowa State University’s expertise to develop farmland there and, in the original proposal, would have displaced refugees.”
Summit claims it has secured commitments from “dozens” of ethanol plants in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota and North Dakota to tap CO2 waste emissions, and transport them via highly-pressurized pipeline to a proposed underground sequestration site in North Dakota.
The project faces opposition from citizens, environmentalists, property rights advocates and landowners in all of the impacted states. Landowners and impacted counties along the proposed route strongly oppose the use of eminent domain for the carbon pipeline project.
Landowners and affected communities have voiced concerns about the potential for a deadly CO2 pipeline rupture, as CO2 is an asphyxiant — like what happened in the town of Satartia, MS, where dozens of nearby residents were sickened, with some foaming at the mouth and appearing to act as “zombies,” according to reports from first responders.
Negative impacts on soil and crop yields from pipeline construction are also a top concern for landowners, as is the mere fact of having a pipeline on their pristine farmland affecting land values.
The pipeline project also faces state regulatory hearing processes that landowners and others may participate as intervenors in South Dakota, Minnesota, and North Dakota, and must also obtain necessary permits from state and federal agencies for the underground carbon sequestration site in North Dakota.
Nebraska has NO regulatory structure for carbon pipelines putting landowners at a huge risk with no say in the route, zoning, due process of eminent domain use, investors in this private project and other concerns.
Based on strong landowner opposition, and the lack of adequate regulatory oversight, many of the impacted counties have passed or are considering resolutions opposing the use of eminent domain for carbon pipelines, enacting moratoria on pipeline construction, or considering other zoning ordinances that would potentially affect siting and construction.
Summit claims its project will deliver community, economic, and environmental benefits. However, as with all pipeline projects, the risks outweigh any short-term gain of construction jobs, or taxes paid on the pipeline — which is a piece of equipment that depreciates, and those taxes then go away over time.
- Owner: Summit Carbon Solutions
- Capacity: 12 million tons of CO2 per year, expandable to 20 million
- Length: 2,000 miles
- Diameter: Varied: 4-inch > 24-inch
- Cost: $4.5 billion
- Status: PROPOSED
- Start Year: Summit wants the project operational by 2024, although that timeline is pushed by the company and does not reflect regulatory hurdles.
- Bank lenders & investors:
- Morgan Stanley and CohnReznick Capital [source]
- Continental Resources (Harold Hamm) = $250 million [source]
- Operating Revenue: Federal 45Q Tax Credit starting in 2026 pays $50 per metric ton of CO2 injected underground for 12 years. If Navigator sequesters its maximum capacity of 15 million metric tons per year, then it would be given $750 million in transferable tax credits per year, or a total of $9 billion in tax credits. In addition, Navigator may also seek to sell credits in California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard Program. These credits have a variable price, currently at $123 per metric ton. These credits are intended to mitigate climate change, but both programs have been criticized for providing generous financial rewards without benefiting the environment.
Permits & Project Status
Most states have a process that a pipeline corporation must go through to get a construction permit and to get approval to use eminent domain. Nebraska is the only state that does not have a process.
Counties can also enforce zoning, conduct emergency planning for pipeline ruptures, road haul agreements and other protections in their role to protect the health and welfare of citizens.
Multiple counties along the proposed route proactively pass resolutions targeting proposed CO2 pipelines, objecting to the use of eminent domain and voicing other concerns, with some counties going further to pass a moratorium on CO2 pipeline consideration, or other zoning-level protections. In South Dakota and Iowa, counties have passed resolutions opposing the use of eminent domain for carbon pipelines.
Iowa: Iowa Utilities Board
- Summit filed for a permit that would authorize its use of eminent domain with the Iowa Utilities Board on Feb. 2, 2022.
Minnesota: Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
- The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has initiated a process to consider whether or not it will extend its jurisdiction to include carbon dioxide pipelines under Minnesota’s pipeline routing law. To view the related docket, visit MN.gov/puc/edockets and click “eDockets,” then under “Basic Search” and “Document Number” -Select- Year “21” and under “Number” type “836”, then click Search. (View sample public comment)
North Dakota: North Dakota Public Service Commission
- Summit has yet to file an application with the North Dakota Public Service Commission.
- The state of Nebraska has no process or permitting agency in place for carbon pipelines, leaving it up to landowners and county boards.
South Dakota: South Dakota Public Utilities Commission
- Summit filed for a permit that would authorize its use of eminent domain with the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission on Feb. 7, 2022.
Depending on the project and its proposed location, a pipeline may be regulated under the National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, National Historic Preservation Act, Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, or Coastal Zone Management Act — and require a federal permit(s) from the following agencies:
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- Corps permits are necessary for any work, including construction and dredging, in the Nation’s navigable waters. The Corps balances the reasonably foreseeable benefits and detriments of proposed projects, and makes permit decisions that recognize the essential values of the Nation’s aquatic ecosystems to the general public, as well as the property rights of private citizens who want to use their land. During the permit process, the Corps considers the views of other Federal, state and local agencies, interest groups, and the general public.
- Section 401 Certification: The Clean Water Act (CWA) gives states and authorized tribes the authority to grant, deny, or waive certification of proposed federal licenses or permits that may discharge into waters of the United States.
- Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes a program to regulate the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, including wetlands. Activities in waters of the United States regulated under this program include fill for development, water resource projects (such as dams and levees), infrastructure development (such as highways and airports) and mining projects.
- U.S. Department of Transportation
- U.S. Department of the Interior
- National Park Service
- Fish and Wildlife Service
- Bureau of Indian Affairs
- Bureau of Land Management
- Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- U.S. Forest Service
- National Marine Fisheries Service
Indigenous Free, Prior & Informed Consent; Consultation & Environmental Justice:
- No free, prior & informed consent. Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is a specific right that pertains to Indigenous peoples and is recognized in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). It allows them to give or withhold consent to a project that may affect them or their territories. Once they have given their consent, they can withdraw it at any stage. Furthermore, FPIC enables them to negotiate the conditions under which the project will be designed, implemented, monitored and evaluated. This is also embedded within the universal right to self-determination. [source]
Impact Litigation / Court Fights
- State Court: Landowners have filed several objections with the Iowa Utilities Board, citing Summit’s failure to submit “Exhibit H” – a list of all landowners it has signed easement contracts with to the agency. [source]
- Legal action is a probable outcome in every state along the proposed route. We will post information when lawsuits are filed over eminent domain or other issues the pipeline will face.
- (March 29, 2022): Des Moines Register: Iowans at Capitol push for stronger restrictions on eminent domain for carbon capture pipelines
- (March 8, 2022): Reuters: U.S. Midwest carbon pipeline has secured less than 2% of key Iowa route, filings show
- (February 24, 2022): Iowa Public Radio: Iowa landowners unite against use of eminent domain
- (December 16, 2021): Des Moines Register: Carbon pipelines could extend ethanol’s viability, but some Iowa farmers say they’re not worth the tradeoffs
- (August 26, 2021): HuffPost: The Gassing of Satartia: Carbon Dioxide Pipeline Linked to Mass Poisoning
- (February 28, 2015): Des Moines Register: Bruce Rastetter: The quiet, fierce man behind ag summit