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Groups push for pause on carbon pipelines in Illinois

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(The Center Square) – The Sierra Club, Stop CO2 Pipelines Coalition and other environmentalists are pushing for legislation that would implement a moratorium on carbon pipelines in Illinois.

The groups said a rupture of a carbon pipeline could mean massive casualties. Susan Adams, an opponent of carbon pipelines, explained the moratorium includes three provisions.

“If the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration comes out with its new guidelines, which we don’t have yet, the new safety guidelines are established by the state and then the counties can use that information to create their guidelines, or four years have passed,” said Adams.

One of those three provisions need to be adopted before moving forward with carbon pipeline installation in the state, according to House Bill 4835. Some bill sponsors are state Reps. Diane Blair-Sherlock, D-Villa Park, and Anna Moeller, D-Elgin.

Mark Denzler, president of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, said it’s worth pointing out that national leaders like President Joe Biden and Illinois U.S. Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Schaumburg, and Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, have said the United States can’t meet carbon goals without carbon capture.

“It’s the reason a bipartisan group in Washington D.C. passed legislation incenting carbon capture and storage. This is a safe and proven technology,” said Denzler.

The Biden administration has increased funding to build a carbon dioxide removal industry.

The federal Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 significantly increases the tax credits for these projects, going from $50 per metric ton for carbon dioxide storage to $85.

Illinois farmers, in a news conference this week, said there’s a concern about drinking water security. One farmer said not only is there a risk the carbon pipeline will pollute an aquifer in McLean County but also the sequestration process itself consumes massive amounts of water.

Denzler said the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration already has federal safety regulations and that the state’s focus should really be on preserving property rights. The federal government has invited the states to “fill in the gaps” and that safety regulations aren’t something the state should focus on, he said.

“We think any Illinois law should focus on the gaps the federal government invited the states to weigh in on,” said Denzler. “Things like land owner protections, property rights and ensuring first responders have access to necessary equipment when training.”

Adams said the issue of eminent domain is important in the conversation of carbon pipeline projects.

“One of the things we’d like to have done is that property not be taken by the eminent domain. That was established by some legislation in 2011, when the federal government wanted to do a FutureGen project. We would like for the eminent domain to be removed,” said Adams. “It can be done in a safer way and without having to take the property.”

Denzler said the business community and the Illinois Corn Growers Association have been pushing legislation that essentially allows public infrastructure, that’s important to the nation, to be installed that “gets that last landowner to buy into it.” The language of the environmentalists and the Democrat-sponsored legislation allows one landowner to stop an entire carbon capture project, he said.

Denzler said the environmentalists’ legislation’s language removing eminent domain is a “poison pill” that would essentially stop carbon capture in Illinois.

Adams said there is an end in sight for the moratorium at some point, but she argued it’s just not safe to install carbon pipelines right now.

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