A proposed CO2 pipeline project that could impact Otter Tail County and multiple other Minnesota counties may be in jeopardy due to a stunning recent decision from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commision (MN PUC). The decisiont has been praised by environmental groups, Native American tribes and the group, Clean Up the River Environment (CURE).

The pipeline project is being planned and proposed by Summit Carbon Solution, a firm based out of Ames, Iowa. The MN PUC took up the issue of CO2 pipelines after CURE submitted petitions about the two current CO2 pipeline projects to the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board in late 2021.

The line would run through Otter Tail, Wilkin, Chippewa, Cottonwood, Kandiyohi, Renville, Jackson, Martin, Redwood and Yellow Medicine Counties. CURE states that as these pipelines will be transporting highly pressurized CO2 in a hazardous state, the PUC will need to permit the routes. The PUC agreed that it’s in the best interest of Minnesotans for the currently proposed or any future CO2 pipelines to have state-level review and oversight.

Anne Borgendale, communications director for CURE, said it is a massive project.

“There are currently CO2 pipelines in the U.S. Typically they are going to be used for enhanced oil recovery. To our knowledge, this is the first project of its type where they’re capturing CO2 from industrial facilities and piping it for what they say is sequestration and the most extensive as far as mileage. It’s thousands of miles, but it’s the first project of this scale for this type of purpose,” said Borgendale.

In a statement released from the company, they state that it could have a huge economic impact on the area.

Over the past year, Summit Carbon Solutions has worked closely with regulators and stakeholders at the federal, state and local levels, including in Minnesota, to introduce its carbon capture and storage project and deliver on its commitment to meet or exceed all regulatory, environmental and safety requirements and the company plans to maintain that commitment.

The project represents a $540 million investment in Minnesota that will open new economic opportunities for ethanol producers, strengthen the marketplace for corn growers and generate tens of millions of additional property taxes to help local communities support schools, hospitals, roads and more.

Summit Carbon Solutions states that it will continue to work to help the state realize these significant and long-lasting benefits, while ensuring the project is also safe for landowners, communities and the environment.

Summit Carbon Solutions and Navigator Ventures LLC each have proposed multi-state CO2 pipeline projects that will cross the state.

Borgendale said CURE became aware of the pipeline projects last October. Summit Carbon Solutions was talking to county commissions starting last fall, and she said that’s when CURE started getting involved in the process and petitioning the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board.

The MN PUC took up the issue of CO2 pipelines after CURE submitted petitions about the two current CO2 pipeline projects to the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board in late 2021.

The health and safety concerns of PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) and other commenters resonated with the PUC as well.

In their comments, PEER argued that existing law already covers these pipelines as a pressurized toxic gas. “We are very pleased that the Commission is putting human health and the environment first,” said Hudson Kingston, litigation and policy attorney at PEER. “The fact that purified and highly pressurized carbon dioxide gas can explode out of pipelines and suffocate communities is more than enough reason for the PUC to immediately exercise authority over them.”

To ensure consistency with state and federal law and clarify the extent of their authority, the PUC will proceed with a rule-making process. More information about the CO2 pipeline rule-making and opportunities for public comment will be forthcoming when the PUC issues its formal notice later this month.

Summit Carbon Solutions is an Affiliate of Summit Agricultural Group. Summit Agricultural Group is a diversified agribusiness operator and investment manager with operations in the United States and Brazil.

Carbon Pipelines MN is a project of CURE, a 30-year-old rural grassroots non-profit organization based in Montevideo. CURE organizes Minnesotans around democracy, clean energy and rural development.

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