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Faith Coalition member raises awareness about proposed liquid carbon dioxide pipeline

Francesca ButlerFaith Coalition for the Common Good
Published May 29, 2022 in the  State Journal Register

My name is Francesca Butler and I am a member of the Environmental Justice Task Force of the Faith Coalition for the Common Good. I am deeply concerned about our community and the environment.

I am particularly interested in this cause since I am currently a graduate student pursuing my master’s degree in environmental science at University of Illinois Springfield. My passion for the environment did not happen by chance. Instead, it was sparked by growing up near a heavily polluted town in the Metro East near St. Louis. My grandmother and father, along with many other members of my family, have health problems that can be largely attributed to the dangerous environmental conditions created by the fossil fuel industry. I refuse to be idle while another arm of industry, once again, threatens my community, Springfield, which I have called home for the last six years.

It has come to the attention of our task force that a liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) pipeline has been proposed to travel through central Illinois and terminate in a permanent sequestration (or storage) facility near Taylorville. Although some advocates argue projects like this one will help community members and the environment, we believe this to be demonstrably false. For one thing, we should be working to end our reliance on fossil fuels. Pipelines like this one instead prolong Americans’ dependence on energy sources that harm land, water and human health. In reality, it is to protect interests in the fossil fuel industry, that these pipelines enable companies to hyper-condense their carbon dioxide emissions into a liquid state, and move it far from the sites where they produce it: dumping it, in this case, in Central Illinois. Farmers and other landowners who allow for pipeline construction or carbon sequestration on their land run serious risks of permanently damaging soil and drainage tile, risking future crop yields as well as property values.

ven more worryingly, though, the pipelines pose risks to human health! In the summer of 2020, a damaged liquid CO2 pipeline (similar to the one proposed for central Illinois) deeply impacted the small town of Satartia, Mississippi. A massive release of CO2 from that pipeline left many people hospitalized with respiratory symptoms, convulsions and unconsciousness.

Part of the problem is that few federal regulations exist to cover the new, largely unproven technology for carbon capture and sequestration. Liquid CO2 pipelines and storage facilities are instead held to standards similar to those governing oil pipelines. Oil pipelines pose their own very real risks, but CO2 pipelines can burst with explosive force, risking human health and lives as well as damaging economically important farmland.

There are better options to address climate change, which will avoid these risks. We attended the May 5 Sangamon County Board meeting to alert the board about this issue and to make known our grave concerns. Community stakeholders such as the Faith Coalition for the Common Good oppose this pipeline.

It is the mission of the Faith Coalition to promote racial equity, civic engagement a fair economy, and participatory decision making. The Faith Coalition will host a congressional forum for candidates in the 13th Congressional District. The event is scheduled for 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 7 at the Lincoln Library, 326 S. Seventh St., Springfield. The forum is open to the public.

For more information: www.faithcoalition-il.org or email: fccg2208@gmail.com.

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