County Board Takes Further Action to Delay Proposed Carbon Pipeline Project; Opponents More Hopeful that It Can Be Defeated

By B.N. Frank

The more that Americans learn about carbon pipeline projects, the more they seem to be fighting to keep them away from their communities (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).  Regulators and lawmakers have been taking action against development as well (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), including in Sangamon County, IL.

From Illinois Times:

CO2 pipeline stalled in Sangamon County

County Board enacts additional moratorium, opposes approval

By Dean Olsen

The Sangamon County Board held a July 17 public hearing at the BOS Center on the proposed CO2 pipeline. It attracted more than 400 people, most of them opponents wearing yellow shirts.

The Sangamon County Board held a July 17 public hearing at the BOS Center on the proposed CO2 pipeline. It attracted more than 400 people, most of them opponents wearing yellow shirts.

A recent vote by the Sangamon County Board has given more hope to opponents of the Navigator Heartland Greenway carbon-dioxide pipeline that the proposed project can be defeated in Illinois.

The Republican-controlled board voted unanimously on Aug. 8 to enact a moratorium through Dec. 31 on issuing any permits for future underground storage of CO2 from the proposed CO2 pipeline through the county.

That moratorium was in addition to a moratorium the board voted to enact through Dec. 31 on permits for construction of the pipeline. The construction moratorium, approved May 25 by the board, replaced an older moratorium that was set to expire in May. The board on Aug. 8 also unanimously approved a resolution opposing state or federal approval for any CO2 pipeline construction or sequestration sites.

Kathleen Campbell, a Glenarm resident and vice chairperson of Citizens Against Heartland Greenway Pipeline, said opponents “weren’t all that hopeful a year ago” that the Heartland Greenway project could be defeated.

But actions by county boards in Sangamon and other Illinois counties along the proposed pipeline route, along with a rebuke of the proposal by a key member of the Illinois Commerce Commission staff, have raised opponents’ hopes, Campbell said.

The Sangamon County actions this month followed a July 17 public hearing conducted by the board at the BOS center that attracted more than 400 people, most of them opponents wearing yellow shirts.

The 1,350-mile-long, $3.4 billion pipeline – the biggest project of its type in the world – would include more than 290 miles of pipeline in Illinois as part of a route beginning in South Dakota and transporting liquified and pressurized CO2 from ethanol and fertilizer plants in South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and Illinois.

Rather than being emitted into the air, the CO2 from the five states would be converted into a liquid and injected, or sequestered, underground at proposed rural sites in Christian and Montgomery counties. Navigator hasn’t ruled out potential future sequestration sites in Sangamon and other central Illinois counties.

The Sangamon County Board listed in a resolution the reasons for its opposition to CO2 pipeline construction and sequestration. They include concerns about concentrated CO2 escaping and causing asphyxiation and other health problems during a pipeline rupture.

Also cited were concerns that “earthquake activity predicted for the area” in the underground rock formation targeted for sequestration would cause leaks.

Opponents of the Navigator pipeline say the CO2 could react with underground minerals and poison groundwater supplies. Pipeline supporters, however, say the chance of groundwater contamination would be remote because the CO2 would be permanently stored more than a mile underground in the Mount Simon sandstone formation that extends under parts of Illinois and several other states.

James Prescott, spokesperson for Nebraska-based Navigator CO2 Ventures LLC, told the Sangamon County Board that the pipeline would generate “significant economic benefits” for counties and that the company intends to address the concerns raised by opponents.

Navigator officials have said the pipeline and sequestration operations would be safe, and that they would reimburse landowners for any damage to cropland and work with emergency response agencies to respond adequately to any ruptures.

Navigator’s vice president of capital projects, Chris Brown, told the crowd July 17 that the company’s design for the pipeline would exceed existing federal standards for safety and durability.

But Campbell said at the public hearing that Navigator hasn’t done enough to ensure safety, and the company hasn’t committed to equip rural volunteer fire protection districts and other emergency responders in case of a pipeline rupture along Interstate 55 or near Glenarm and other residential areas that would prevent gasoline-powered vehicles from operating.

“Pipelines do eventually fail,” she said. “And when they fail, we need to have these safeguards.”

Dr. Peter Kieffer, an emergency room physician from Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, said at the hearing that “highly pressurized CO2 can be dangerous” during a rupture, “and can quickly cause injury.”

“When it comes out of the pipeline, it boils off,” he said. “It will be at minus 109 degrees. … That can cause thermal burns and frostbite.”

Campbell, whose home would be 1,950 feet from the pipeline, said she is preparing to testify during a four-day evidentiary hearing, which will be open to the public and conducted by the Illinois Commerce Commission Oct. 17-20 at the Leland Building in Springfield.

The ICC is expected to rule on Navigator’s pipeline construction proposal in early 2024, and it’s unclear whether the ruling would supersede any moratoriums issued by Sangamon County and other counties. Navigator also is pursuing regulatory approval in the other four states.

Approval from the ICC would allow Navigator to seize land through eminent domain if landowners wouldn’t agree to grant paid easements to Navigator.

But based on documents Navigator filed with the ICC in June with data that hasn’t been updated since, the company would need to seize more than 85% of the land along the route. Only 13.4% of landowners along the route in Illinois – and 5.2% in Sangamon County – had signed easement agreements as of June.

It’s unknown whether the Illinois General Assembly will consider legislation affecting CO2 pipelines when lawmakers return to Springfield for the 2023 veto session in October and November. Several bills have been filed that would alternatively benefit consumers and pipeline companies.

Sangamon County Board members have tabled votes on resolutions that pay county government a total of $47.4 million over a 30-year period in lieu of property taxes that Illinois doesn’t allow to be collected for pipelines and sequestration sites.

The only Illinois county that has approved such an agreement is Adams. Minutes from the May 9 meeting of the Adams County Board indicate the board approved a “project development agreement” with Navigator in which the company would pay Adams County $160,000 annually for 30 years if the pipeline is built and goes through the northeastern part of the county.

Dean Olsen is a senior staff writer at Illinois Times. He can be reached at, 217-679-7810 or

Activist Post reports regularly about energy and unsafe technologies.  For more information, visit our archives.

Top image: Pixabay

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