Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines Asks Morgan County Board to Add Zoning Ahead of Proposed Project

By Benjamin Cox on July 12, 2022 at 10:22am

The Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines visited the Morgan County Commissioners Monday morning asking them to put in place a zoning ordinance specifically dealing with carbon dioxide sequestration pipelines.

Lan & Pam Richart of the coalition say that the group is comprised of various people on opposing sides of the climate change debate but have found the common ground that CO2 pipelines cause various problems.

Lan Richart says that the Carbon Capture technology allows the nation’s biggest polluters to continue their operations with public money.

Part of the problem is that the technology is not advanced enough so that we are really going to be efficiently doing that, certainly not on an industrial scale. Secondly, our opposition to the pipeline network that is proposed nationwide, by the way, is that it’s being implemented by the very folks who are originally causing much of the problem, and that’s the fossil fuel industry.

The subsidies that are funding this build-up, the infrastructure, these projects, and fast-tracking them, are actually going into the oil and gas industry folks who know pipelines.

And we see the problem environmentally that carbon capture and storage, although in a concept it may work, and may be applicable at some point in the future. In the short term, it is in our opinion a way to perpetuate the oil and gas industry.”

Lan Richart says that much of the CO2 that is sequestered is used to enhance oil recovery from the ground instead of reducing the need for it. Pam Richart says that safety is one of the largest concerns for the pipeline, as the science for this type of pipeline has not been perfected.

At this particular time, the technology isn’t really there to ensure it can be done safely. This is thirteen hundred miles, there’s only five thousand miles of pipeline in the entire country. Most of those are in short segments, they go from point A. to point B. Navigator has about thirty-two point sources that they are bringing in online trying to maintain the pressure, trying to make sure there’s no moisture in the pipe. When moisture gets in the pipeline it corrodes it and it erupts. So I’m not sure we’re ready for this yet.”

Pam Richart cites a CO2 pipeline rupture in February 2020 that evacuated the town of Satartia, Mississippi, and sent 49 people to the hospital as a reason for caution.

Alec Messina, who is an environmental attorney based in Springfield, was also in attendance at the Commissioner’s meeting Monday morning. Messina works with Navigator CO2 ventures and says he believes the concerns about the length of the pipeline as well as some of the other concerns raised by the coalition are overstated.

These issues with regard to length and width and emergency response and needing to have certain setback sizes so that way there is no impact to residents, those are all things that are taken into account during the design of the project. And again, I appreciate the fact that they are raising important questions, but I think the point is all of those questions really are readily answerable.”

The Heartland Greenway is proposed to run just north of Chapin in northern Morgan County and will cut across the county, eventually making its way to the Taylorville area to a sequestration site. The Richarts say a comprehensive zoning ordinance would go a long way to protect the citizens of the county and hold Navigator, the owner of the project, accountable for land use and any problems that could occur.

The Richarts say anyone wishing to join in the fight against the pipeline can visit the coalition’s website or call them at 217-607-1948.

Jeremy Coumbes assisted with this story.