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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Contacts: Hannah Flath, hannahlee.flath@sierraclub.org, 860-634-0225

Representative Ann Williams, Environmental Advocates, and Community Leaders Introduce Legislation that Protects Illinois from Dangers of Carbon Capture, Transport, and Sequestration

Springfield, IL. -- State Representative Ann Williams, environmental advocates, and community leaders today introduced two pieces of legislation that protect Illinois from the risks associated with Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) projects. Due to an influx in federal tax incentives, the fossil fuel industry is targeting Illinois as a prime location for CCS projects despite a woeful lack of federal and state regulations. The Safety Moratorium on Carbon Dioxide Pipelines Act (HB4835/SB3441) and the Carbon Dioxide Transport and Storage Protections Act (SB3930/HB5814) work hand in hand to fill current regulatory gaps that leave Illinois communities and our land and water in grave danger.

The Safety Moratorium on Carbon Dioxide Pipelines Act will temporarily pause CO2 pipeline projects across Illinois. The pause will give the federal Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) time to update and adopt new rules to improve safety and oversight of CO2 pipelines. PHMSA launched this process in 2020 in the wake of a CO2 pipeline rupture in Satartia, Mississippi that hospitalized 45 people with life-threatening symptoms and forced 200 people to evacuate their small town.

“We need an immediate moratorium on CO2 pipeline projects because developers continue to seek Illinois Commerce Commission approval to construct CO2 pipelines across hundreds of miles of Illinois land over the past two years, even though PHMSA has yet to complete its rulemaking to improve safety and oversight,” said Pam Richart, co-founder of the Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines and co-Director of the Eco-Justice Collaborative. “Furthermore, parts of the routes of all three CO2 pipelines proposed in Illinois would expose residents to a 4% or greater concentration of carbon dioxide if a leak or rupture occurs, which is immediately dangerous to health. One pipeline developer went so far as to offer to supply nearby landowners with oxygen. Fossil fuel companies cannot be allowed to jeopardize the health and safety of our communities while glaring regulatory gaps remain.”

The moratorium will also give the State of Illinois time to complete a setback study and create criteria to ensure pipelines are never constructed within unsafe distances of where people live, work, and play.

“Wolf Carbon Solutions’ proposed CO2 pipeline would have been particularly devastating to environmental justice communities like mine that live near proposed capture facilities like the BioUrja ethanol plant. These proposals are a ticking time bomb for the 14,000 households and eight public and private schools within a mile and a half of BioUrja,” said Martha Ross, long-time resident of the Southside of Peoria and President of Southside Community United for Change. “Any pipeline rupture or accident at the capture facility could mean a mass casualty event, and there is no way emergency responders could reach enough people to prevent loss of life. It’s essential that Illinois complete its setback study in order to define safe distances between CO2 pipelines and our homes, churches, and schools. These fossil fuel companies cannot be allowed to charge ahead amidst the clear lack of regulations.”

In addition to the moratorium on CO2 pipelines, advocates are urging the Illinois General Assembly to pass a comprehensive regulatory bill that enacts protections at every step of the CCS industrial cycle—at heavily polluting facilities where industry will attempt to capture carbon, along pipeline routes, and at industrial waste sequestration sites.

“The regulations in the Carbon Dioxide Transport and Storage Protections Act are commonsense safeguards that will protect our health, safety, and environment,” said Representative Ann Williams (HD11), who is the lead sponsor of HB5814. “Illinois is a national leader on climate and energy policy, and HB5814 ensures that, if used as a climate mitigation strategy, CCS projects won’t spew more health-harming pollutants into the atmosphere during the capture process. Under this legislation, any project proposals must be proven to truly serve the economic and environmental interests of all Illinois citizens.”

The Carbon Dioxide Transport and Storage Protections Act also enacts critical protections for Illinois land and water.

“There are currently 22 proposed carbon sequestration storage wells in Central Illinois, and many of those wells would be under the Mahomet Aquifer. The Mahomet Aquifer supplies drinking water to one million people. I am one of them. My church is one of them. The aquifer is the largest aquifer in Illinois, and for many communities, it is their only option for drinking water,” says Reverend Robert Freeman, Pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Urbana. “If there is an accident—and there will be accidents—what then? I am asking the General Assembly to be good stewards of our land and water and pass a comprehensive regulatory bill that ensures no CO2 is stored under critical water sources like the Mahomet Aquifer.” 

 “My family lives above one of One Earth Energy’s proposed carbon sequestration sites. These proposed projects would have a huge impact on our lives, and yet these companies are pushing their proposals forward with very little public input and with little regard for farmers and landowners,” said Brent Lage, a 5th generation McLean County farmer and landowner. “We need action from the Illinois legislature to ensure fossil fuel companies can’t take our land through eminent domain for their own gain while local municipalities scramble to ensure the safety of their residents. I urge lawmakers to pass the moratorium on CO2 pipelines and the comprehensive regulatory bill during this legislative session.”



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