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Carbon-capture pipelines offer climate aid; activists wary

Carbon-capture pipelines offer climate aid; activists wary

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Two companies seeking to build thousands of miles of pipeline across the Midwest are promising the effort will aid rather than hinder the fight against climate change, though some environmental groups remain skeptical.The pipelines would stretch from North Dakota to Illinois, potentially transforming the Corn Belt into one of the world’s largest corridors for a technology called carbon capture and storage.Environmental activists and landowners have hindered other proposed pipelines in the region that pump oil, carrying carbon that was buried in the earth to engines or plants where it is burned and emitted. The new projects would essentially do the opposite by capturing carbon dioxide at ethanol refineries and transporting it to sites where it could be buried thousands of feet underground.Both companies planning the pipelines appear eager to tout their environmental benefits. Their websites feature clear blue skies and images of green fields and describe how the projects could have the same climatic impact as removing millions of cars from the road every year.However, some conservationists and landowners are already wary of the pipelines’ environmental benefits and safety, raising the chances of another pitched battle as the projects seek construction permits.“It seems like they are running a casino of risk and we are going to pay for it,” said Carolyn Raffensperger, the director of the Science and Environmental Health Network, expressing fears about a leak that could put North Dakota landowners like herself at risk. “We need to think this through very carefully, and I do not see the players in place to do that.”The pipelines could fall into a longstanding divide among environmentalists. President Joe Biden and many Republicans are pushing a strategy for tackling climate change that offers a financial boon to industries that use carbon capture and storage to reduce their emissions. But others, such as Greenpeace and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, argue the focus should be completely on developing renewable energy sources and that carbon capture just prolongs dependence on fossil fuels.Navigator CO2 Ventures, which is planning a pipeline that will stretch over 1,200 miles (1,931 kilometers) through Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and Illinois, says it is offering “carbon capture solutions for a greener planet.” While Summit Carbon Solutions, whose pipeline will connect refineries in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota to a sequestration site in North Dakota, says it plans to build the world’s largest carbon capture and storage project. Both hope to start some operations by 2024.“There’s so much societal momentum that says this is something we want to do — should do, need to do — for the public’s benefit,” said Matt Vining, the CEO of Navigator CO2 Ventures. “My project and many others will get done and should get done.”Supporters say the pipelines are a much-needed win for both agricultural businesses and the environment. The two projects are expected to run into the billions of dollars, spurring construction jobs. And they advance a technology crucial to achieving a 2050 goal of net-zero carbon dioxide emissions — in which every gram of emissions is accounted for by providing a way to eventually suck it back out of the atmosphere.“All sides win. You significantly reduce carbon emissions, but you can also maintain those industries that are the lifeblood of different regions of the country,” said Brad Crabtree, who oversees carbon management policy at the Great Plains Institute, a Minnesota-based organization that works with energy companies to develop environmental sustainability.Crabtree, who also directs a group called Carbon Capture Coalition, sees it as a way to bridge partisan divides as the country addresses climate change. As evidence, he points to one high-profile Republican backer — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum — who is pushing a plan to make the state carbon-neutral by 2030, “through innovation not regulation.”The federal government set off the scurry of pipeline plans by increasing, by 2026, tax credits to $50 for every metric ton of carbon dioxide a company sequesters. California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard has sweetened the deal by requiring that distributors in that state buy only ethanol with a low carbon emissions impact; companies that produce such ethanol can get a higher price.While the practice of storing carbon dioxide in rock formations has been around for almost 50 years, developing technology that captures carbon emissions has proven to be expensive and struggled to gain widespread use.Ethanol refineries could represent the low-hanging fruit that helps push the technology forward into widespread use. Plants such as corn are natural sponges of carbon dioxide, absorbing the gas and storing carbon as they grow through the spring and summer. When those crops ferment into ethanol, which is eventually mixed with gasoline, it produces a steady, easily-captured stream of carbon dioxide.“These early plants are relatively easy and that’s a good place to start,” said Greg Nemet, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who specializes in the development of climate-friendly energy technology. “As that gets shown and proven, you get some transportation networks, then it gets easier to do the harder stuff later.”Achieving that harder stuff — sucking carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere or catching emissions at power plants — will almost certainly be crucial to beating back global temperature increases. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reached that conclusion in 2018 as it laid out a path to halting temperature increases to 1.5 C (2.7 F).Despite concerns from Raffensperger and others about potential leaks from the pipelines or storage sites, the Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that storing carbon dioxide is safe as long as companies do it carefully. It is injected in a liquefied state into porous rock formations, where it eventually dissolves or hardens into minerals.Crabtree said there has not been a single human fatality or serious injury in the United States from transporting or storing captured carbon dioxide. He thinks that as long as companies act responsibly, landowners will be convinced the pipelines are safe and can benefit from them.But Raffensperger still has a range of concerns, including whether a technology that was developed by oil and coal companies can be trusted to make a transformative difference in curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Raffensperger’s organization joined over 500 other environmental organizations in an open letter to Biden denouncing carbon capture and storage as a climate solution.“We don’t need to fix fossil fuels; we need to ditch them,” the group wrote in a Washington Post ad. “Instead of capturing carbon to pump it back underground, we should keep fossil fuels in the ground in the first place.”

Carbon-capture pipelines offer climate aid; activists wary

Carbon-capture pipelines offer climate aid; activists wary

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Two companies seeking to build thousands of miles of pipeline across the Midwest are promising the effort will aid rather than hinder the fight against climate change, though some environmental groups remain skeptical.The pipelines would stretch from North Dakota to Illinois, potentially transforming the Corn Belt into one of the world’s largest corridors for a technology called carbon capture and storage.Environmental activists and landowners have hindered other proposed pipelines in the region that pump oil, carrying carbon that was buried in the earth to engines or plants where it is burned and emitted. The new projects would essentially do the opposite by capturing carbon dioxide at ethanol refineries and transporting it to sites where it could be buried thousands of feet underground.Both companies planning the pipelines appear eager to tout their environmental benefits. Their websites feature clear blue skies and images of green fields and describe how the projects could have the same climatic impact as removing millions of cars from the road every year.However, some conservationists and landowners are already wary of the pipelines’ environmental benefits and safety, raising the chances of another pitched battle as the projects seek construction permits.“It seems like they are running a casino of risk and we are going to pay for it,” said Carolyn Raffensperger, the director of the Science and Environmental Health Network, expressing fears about a leak that could put North Dakota landowners like herself at risk. “We need to think this through very carefully, and I do not see the players in place to do that.”The pipelines could fall into a longstanding divide among environmentalists. President Joe Biden and many Republicans are pushing a strategy for tackling climate change that offers a financial boon to industries that use carbon capture and storage to reduce their emissions. But others, such as Greenpeace and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, argue the focus should be completely on developing renewable energy sources and that carbon capture just prolongs dependence on fossil fuels.Navigator CO2 Ventures, which is planning a pipeline that will stretch over 1,200 miles (1,931 kilometers) through Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and Illinois, says it is offering “carbon capture solutions for a greener planet.” While Summit Carbon Solutions, whose pipeline will connect refineries in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota to a sequestration site in North Dakota, says it plans to build the world’s largest carbon capture and storage project. Both hope to start some operations by 2024.“There’s so much societal momentum that says this is something we want to do — should do, need to do — for the public’s benefit,” said Matt Vining, the CEO of Navigator CO2 Ventures. “My project and many others will get done and should get done.”Supporters say the pipelines are a much-needed win for both agricultural businesses and the environment. The two projects are expected to run into the billions of dollars, spurring construction jobs. And they advance a technology crucial to achieving a 2050 goal of net-zero carbon dioxide emissions — in which every gram of emissions is accounted for by providing a way to eventually suck it back out of the atmosphere.“All sides win. You significantly reduce carbon emissions, but you can also maintain those industries that are the lifeblood of different regions of the country,” said Brad Crabtree, who oversees carbon management policy at the Great Plains Institute, a Minnesota-based organization that works with energy companies to develop environmental sustainability.Crabtree, who also directs a group called Carbon Capture Coalition, sees it as a way to bridge partisan divides as the country addresses climate change. As evidence, he points to one high-profile Republican backer — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum — who is pushing a plan to make the state carbon-neutral by 2030, “through innovation not regulation.”The federal government set off the scurry of pipeline plans by increasing, by 2026, tax credits to $50 for every metric ton of carbon dioxide a company sequesters. California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard has sweetened the deal by requiring that distributors in that state buy only ethanol with a low carbon emissions impact; companies that produce such ethanol can get a higher price.While the practice of storing carbon dioxide in rock formations has been around for almost 50 years, developing technology that captures carbon emissions has proven to be expensive and struggled to gain widespread use.Ethanol refineries could represent the low-hanging fruit that helps push the technology forward into widespread use. Plants such as corn are natural sponges of carbon dioxide, absorbing the gas and storing carbon as they grow through the spring and summer. When those crops ferment into ethanol, which is eventually mixed with gasoline, it produces a steady, easily-captured stream of carbon dioxide.“These early plants are relatively easy and that’s a good place to start,” said Greg Nemet, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who specializes in the development of climate-friendly energy technology. “As that gets shown and proven, you get some transportation networks, then it gets easier to do the harder stuff later.”Achieving that harder stuff — sucking carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere or catching emissions at power plants — will almost certainly be crucial to beating back global temperature increases. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reached that conclusion in 2018 as it laid out a path to halting temperature increases to 1.5 C (2.7 F).Despite concerns from Raffensperger and others about potential leaks from the pipelines or storage sites, the Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that storing carbon dioxide is safe as long as companies do it carefully. It is injected in a liquefied state into porous rock formations, where it eventually dissolves or hardens into minerals.Crabtree said there has not been a single human fatality or serious injury in the United States from transporting or storing captured carbon dioxide. He thinks that as long as companies act responsibly, landowners will be convinced the pipelines are safe and can benefit from them.But Raffensperger still has a range of concerns, including whether a technology that was developed by oil and coal companies can be trusted to make a transformative difference in curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Raffensperger’s organization joined over 500 other environmental organizations in an open letter to Biden denouncing carbon capture and storage as a climate solution.“We don’t need to fix fossil fuels; we need to ditch them,” the group wrote in a Washington Post ad. “Instead of capturing carbon to pump it back underground, we should keep fossil fuels in the ground in the first place.”

GOP donor funds South Dakota National Guard troops in Texas

GOP donor funds South Dakota National Guard troops in Texas

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem says she will use a donation from a Republican donor to fund a deployment of up to 50 South Dakota National Guard troops to the U.S. border with MexicoBy STEPHEN GROVES Associated PressJune 29, 2021, 10:37 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleSIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said Tuesday she will use a donation from a Republican donor to fund a deployment of up to 50 South Dakota National Guard troops to the U.S. border with Mexico.Noem joined a growing list of Republican governors promising to send law enforcement officers to Texas as the GOP ramps up a political fight with President Joe Biden over border security. The issue has drawn a host of prominent GOP figures: Former President Donald Trump was expected to travel to the border this week and Republican governors from Arkansas, Florida, Nebraska and Iowa have all committed to sending law enforcement officers for border security.Noem’s spokesman Ian Fury said the governor decided to fund the deployment with a private donation “to help alleviate the cost to South Dakota taxpayers,” but declined to provide estimates on the cost of the deployment, citing “security reasons.”Willis and Reba Johnson’s Foundation made the donation directly to the state, Fury said. Willis Johnson, a Tennessee-based billionaire, is the founder of an online used-car auction called Copart. He regularly makes large contributions to Republicans, including $200,000 to the Trump Victory Committee last year.Noem, a potential presidential contender, drew a distinction between her decision to send the National Guard and other governors who are sending state police officers.“The border is a national security crisis that requires the kind of sustained response only the National Guard can provide,” she said in a statement. “We should not be making our own communities less safe by sending our police or Highway Patrol to fix a long-term problem President Biden’s Administration seems unable or unwilling to solve.”But Democratic state Sen. Reynold Nesiba said the fact Noem is using a donor to pay for the deployment shows it is not a “real priority” for the state, but instead gives her “political cover.” He said he was looking into whether using a private donation to fund the deployment is legal.“This could set a dangerous precedent to allow anonymous political donors to call the governor and dispatch the Guard whenever they want,” he said.The federal government usually pays for National Guard deployments to other states. When troops respond to an in-state emergency, they are paid from state government funds, according to Duke Doering, a historian with the South Dakota National Guard Museum. He said he had never heard of a private donor funding a deployment.“This kind of floors me, when you’re talking about a private donor sending the Guard, that doesn’t even make sense to me,” Doering said.The South Dakota National Guard is expected to deploy for 30 to 60 days, Noem said, while the other states involved are sending law enforcement officers for roughly two-week stints.Texas Gov. Greg Abbott this month announced plans to build more barriers along the border. Abbott’s new push has been criticized as political theater, but he defended the plan, saying the number of border crossers remains high. The governor said he will use $250 million in state money and crowdsourced financing for the barriers, although the timeline and cost for the push are unclear. It also faces potential court challenges from the federal government.Meanwhile, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday authorized a 90-day deployment of up to 40 National Guard troops to the border. His office said the deployment is not being paid for by a private donor.Iowa has sent about 25 State Patrol officers to the border under a national interstate mutual aid network called an Emergency Management Assistance Compact. Under the compact, Texas has agreed to reimburse Iowa for the expense of the state troopers, though Iowa is paying expenses for the state troopers initially. The Iowa National Guard also has 24 soldiers providing assistance to law enforcement at the border under a federally-funded activation in response to a Trump administration request in October 2020.A spokesman for the Nebraska State Patrol, which has sent 25 troopers to Texas, said it has not received any private donations for the deployment.Large numbers of migrants have been showing up at the U.S. border with Mexico, with many turning themselves over to U.S. Border Patrol agents in seeking legal asylum status. But the numbers of families and children traveling without their parents crossing into the U.S. have dropped sharply since March and April, while the encounters with single adults have remained high.