Local Groups Banding Together To Fight Against Heartland Greenway

By Benjamin Cox on August 31, 2022 at 1:51pm

Map of Heartland Greenway Easement (Navigator website)

Members of the Sangamon Valley Group of the Sierra Club, the Illinois Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines, and Citizens Against Heartland Greenway Pipelines held an information meeting at a Jacksonville business this past Friday.

The group is attempting to put a halt or extremely limit the permit and land acquisition process for the Heartland Greenway CO2 sequestration pipeline slated to pass through Adams, Morgan, Pike, Schulyer, Scott, and Sangamon counties along with 7 others on its way to a sequestration site near Taylorville.

Members of the group Nick Dodson and Francesca Butler spoke with attendees at the meeting and revealed that the groups have collectively reached an agreement to hire private legal counsel in their fight to stop the pipeline.

The groups have hired Joe Murphy of the Meyer Capel Law Firm of Champaign to assist the group in legal documents and processes with the Illinois Commerce Commission, advise on helping suggest local ordinances to county boards regulating the pipeline, and answer landowners’ legal questions who may be approached for easements to the pipeline.

Dodson, who is a former resident of Jacksonville and currently resides in Springfield, recently said on AM1180 WLDS “What’s On Your Mind” that the costs outweigh the benefits to counties when it comes to having the pipeline being built: “You need more energy to pump liquid CO2 through this pipeline. You have to create more energy just to transport this to Illinois from out west. Nonetheless, think about the legacy costs of creating the infrastructure of this pipeline – the costs of the metals, the installation, the infrastructure of placing it in the ground with the heavy equipment, and all that and beyond – how much disruption is being created just by installing the pipeline? We believe it’s a shell game with taxpayer money.”

Butler, who is currently a graduate student in Environmental Studies and is an environmentalist, says that a lot of the up-front benefits to installing the pipeline go away quickly: “There is no permanent jobs with this. The permanent jobs exist much farther away. Of course, the pipeline will be laid and there will be temporary jobs for that, but save for a few maintenance people to run the whole gamut of the pipeline, it really doesn’t generate much for our economy here in Central Illinois.”

Butler and Dodson says that the pipeline is a perfect example of “green washing.” Green washing is a process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company or a process or product is environmentally sound or is saving the environment in some way. Butler, who’s graduate degree is focused on environmental policy says that the whole reason the CO2 pipeline exists is to get it out of the environment to help with air quality and reduce greenhouse gases, but really it’s doing the opposite: “The question to ask is: ‘Why is CO2 being generated to start with?’ The whole reason that CO2 is being generated is the burning of fossil fuels. It’s a waste product from that. If we weren’t burning off fossil fuels, then we wouldn’t have this need to cart it across multiple states to Illinois to bury it in soil. In that way, the fossil fuel industry is able to create a market for themselves that they then use taxpayer dollars to fund.”

Butler says there are numerous ways for people to get involved: “If you’re somebody that’s kind of a home body and you don’t really feel like door knocking or going and personally talking to a legislator in person; write a letter, sign a petition, go to our website and see what actions we have set up. Definitely do not sign any voluntary easement agreements regarding your land until you’re educated and until you know that’s exactly what you want to do because it’s very hard, if not impossible to go back once you’ve signed one of those land agreements.”

More informational meetings will be announced soon. Dodson says he is willing to speak with individual landowners or anyone who is willing to discuss the impact of the pipeline locally. Dodson says you can contact him via email at nickdodson@gmail.com or find further contact information at noillinoisco2pipelines.org.