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Governor Pritzker needs to hear from you!
Our Governor has yet to come out with a clear platform or statement on carbon capture and sequestration.  He needs to hear that carbon capture, transport, and sequestration will put Illinois' residents health, safety, land, and water at risk.  We need HB5814 and SB3920, the Carbon Dioxide Transport and Storage Protections Act, and a moratorium in place until these regulations are in place to protect Illinois residents.

That's why the Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines is launching a hand writing letter campaign. Will you commit to writing one letter to the Governor each week?  Would you also be willing to host one or two letter writing parties at your home or church to encourage others to do the same?  We'd like to get more than 1,000 hand written letters to the Governor between now and the end of May.

Letters can be mailed to: Office of the Governor, 401 S. Spring Street, Springfield, IL 62704

Please send a quick email to Pam at coalition@noillinoisCO2pipelines.org when you send a letter or host a letter writing party.  We want to know how many people are reaching Governor Pritzker!

What should I say?
Your letter doesn't have to be long. In fact, shorter, more frequent letters will have a greater impact. Introduce yourself and share why you are concerned carbon capture, transport via CO2 pipelines, or sequestration. Then, ask for a moratorium while strong regulations for CCS are put in place.

If you would have been - or are currently affected - by Navigator CO2 Ventures, Wolf Carbon Solutions, One Earth Sequestration, LLC, or any other pipeline or sequestration project in Illinois, be sure to add that to your letter. Be sure to include your name, city, and zip code.

Here are some talking points to get you started:

Landowner Rights
Granting eminent domain to a private, for-profit company for private gain. There is no demonstrated public good, and, in fact, public harm and risk. The Carbon Dioxide Transport and Storage Protections Act removes eminent domain for CO2 pipelines, and requires all owners of pore space in a sequestration area to agree to a carbon storage project before it moves forward. The Illinois Farm Bureau adopted resolutions in December of 2023 that support legislation that prohibits the use of eminent domain for CO2 pipelines and the forced assembly of pore space for sequestration.

Community Concern over Safety and Water Sources
Many local units of government most impacted by the pipeline and sequestration sites have adopted resolutions against the projects. Why? Carbon capture, CO2 pipelines, and sequestration threaten our health and safety. We need regulations that:

  • Keep our water safe, and ensure carbon capture does not deplete local water resources.
  • Create safe setbacks that ensure people can be rescued before they succumb to CO2.
  • Hold the developer liable for all CO2 releases.

Health threats from Carbon Capture
CCS can increase the most immediately harmful sources of pollution from fossil fuel plants that contribute to premature death, asthma attacks, and groundwater contamination. That is because capturing carbon at power plants requires a lot of energy and additional fuel, and often requires building a new power plant that can emit more CO2 as well as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide (smog precursors), particulate (soot), and coal ash.  When a power plant is in an already overburdened Illinois community, this becomes an environmental justice concern.

Threats from Pipelines
CO2 pipelines pose significant safety hazards and are terribly under-regulated. CO2 is an asphyxiant that’s heavier than air, and it can travel large distances at lethal concentrations from the pipeline after a rupture. CO2 pipelines are susceptible to ductile fractures, which can, like a zipper, open up and run down a significant length of the pipe, they can release immense amounts of CO2, hurl large sections of pipe, expel pipe shrapnel, and generate enormous craters. Water, notoriously difficult to eliminate from CO2 pipelines, allows the formation of carbonic acid in the pipeline which has a ferocious appetite for carbon steel.

CO2 Pipeline Accidents
Satartia - A CO2 pipeline ruptured in Mississippi in February, 2020. This rupture caused a plume of CO2 to be released over four hours. It traveled towards Satartia, a small, rural, predominantly black community.  Because CO2 is heavier than air, emergency responders needed air supply respirators to rescue people who had become disoriented, convulsed, and eventually became unconscious.  Gas-powered engines sputtered and stopped, making rescue difficult. Over 200 people were evacuated and 46 people hospitalized, including first responders.

Sulphur, Louisiana - On April 3, 2024, an estimated 2,548 barrels of carbon dioxide leaked from the Exxon pipeline in Sulphur, LA. The incident reported to the sheriff by a resident after calls to the company were not answered. No one was on site and the camera was not working. The company learned about the leak from emergency services. The company should have known about the leak from pressure loss, and turned it off, but instead, it took two hours to get someone on site to stop it. CO2 pipeline companies often tout their 24/7 control room. But it is often farmers and residents that place the call.

Threats from Sequestration
Mahomet Aquifer - Two companies, Heartland Greenway Carbon Storage, LLC and One Earth Energy Sequestration, LLC, have proposed to inject CO2 through and under the Mahomet Aquifer and its recharge areas. This aquifer provides fresh drinking water to nearly 1 million people in Illinois. There is NO guarantee that CO2 won't leak, and if it mixes with water it will form carbonic acid that will leach toxic metals like arsenic into the water.  Why would we put our water at risk? This aquifer is a designated sole-source aquifer, which means that there is would be no readily available supply of drinking water, should it be contaminated. The People's Gas Leak in Champaign County that was discovered in 2015 required the Attorney General to sue the company for damages and the General Assembly to appropriate funds for replacement water. Nearly ten years later, residents are still not connected to a new water supply.

Earthquakes
Illinois is no stranger to earthquakes.  Since September 2023, we've experienced five earthquakes large enough to be felt (over 2.5M), and one that was 3.6M. Earthquakes can damage wellbores or fracture rock, creating pathways for CO2 to escape confinement. But injecting CO2 at high pressure, large volumes for long durations can induce earthquakes.This could be a larger concern for sequestration than natural earthquakes in Illinois, if the frequency is similar or greater than the number of earthquakes taking place in Oklahoma and Texas from injecting wastewater produced by the oil and gas industry deep in the earth.  The U.S. EPA does not regulate induced earthquakes, and Illinois MUST have a system in place to stop injection (at least temporarily) when an induced earthquake occurs.

Pipeline And Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
After Satartia, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration initiated a rulemaking process to improve safety and oversight of CO2 pipelines. But CO2 pipeline developers coming to Illinois aren’t waiting for that rulemaking to be complete. Thankfully, the Illinois Commerce Commission Staff has recommended denial of all three companies seeking to build CO2 pipelines in Illinois, primarily for this reason. Those companies are Navigator CO2 Ventures, Wolf Carbon Solutions, and One Earth Energy Sequestration, LLC.

Why Pipelines Fail
Over 90% of CO2 pipeline accidents result from engineering/equipment/material failure or incorrect operation:

  • Equipment failure: 53.03%.
  • Incorrect operation: 15.15%.
  • Material failure:  13.64%
  • Corrosion failure:  10.61%,
  • Other causes (like damage from motorized vehicles): 6.07%.
  • Natural forces (like heavy rains or floods): 1.52%.

Source: Xi et al . Carbon Dioxide Pipelines: A Statistical Analysis of Historical Accidents. Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries. 2023.

It’s likely PHMSA will upgrade its rules to address these problems. But once in the ground, CO2 pipelines won’t benefit from mandated safety improvements. CO2 pipeline developers need to wait for PHMSA to complete its rule-making process.

Scale
Carbon capture is being proposed at scales far larger than ever before. We aren’t ready. We need sensible protections in place. There are 22 wells in six different Illinois counties under review by the U.S. EPA. Collectively, they are 100 times the size of the ADM’s carbon capture facility. What ARE we doing, and why do we think it will work? CCS is an evolving technology, at best!  At its worst, it can pollute our water, contaminate our land, harm people's health (or perhaps even kill them if they are exposed to high enough concentrations of CO2), and re-release carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere if it leaks.

Captured Carbon must not be used for EOR
Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) is the process of injecting CO2 into depleted underground oil reservoirs to boost oil production. EOR results in more oil extraction and more carbon emissions when that oil is burned and is disastrous for the climate. EOR is shown to put 3.7 to 4.7 times as much CO2 into the air as it removes. Today, nearly all the carbon captured is used to get oil out of the ground. Many experts say that EOR is the "end game" of industry, and if that is true, that will certainly ensure we won't be able to preserve a habitable climate.

Does it work?
CCS has repeatedly failed at power plants. Yet, it is planned for the Prairie State coal plant in Marissa in southeastern Illinois, and a pilot project is underway at the Dallman plant in Springfield. 

The U.S. government has approved hundreds of millions of dollars for developing commercial-scale power plant CCS projects in the U.S. that ultimately were withdrawn, canceled or shut down. Until the shuttered Petra Nova plant recently reopened, only operating CCS power plant in the world was Canada's Boundary Dam.  Both have underperformed.  Petra Nova captures CO2 for enhanced oil recovery which increases greenhouse gas emissions, and Boundary Dam caused the price of electricity to double. Illinois residents remember the failed demonstration CCS project called FutureGen in Morgan County that.  After 12 years of technological challenges, missed deadlines, and cost overruns, FutureGen was canceled in 2015.

ADM stored just 1 MMT tons CO2 over a three-year period as part of their first project, and promised they would sequester 1 MMT each year beginning 2017. However, they have stored, on average, just 503,388 tons per year since from 2017 to 2021. Source: GHG reported data, USEPA, ADM. These examples call into question the viability of carbon capture and sequestration, based on existing technology.  

The elephant in the room
The elephant in the room is that CCS does nothing to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. At best, it prevents additional emissions from being released.

It's funded by the taxpayer
The Inflation Reduction Act, often hailed as the most important federal climate legislation ever, places an expensive bet on carbon capture and storage/sequestration as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This law greatly expanded the 45Q tax credit program that supports existing CCS investments.  That means that  individual companies proposing carbon pipelines could see billions of dollars in annual tax benefits for a technology that hasn't been proven at this scale and can harm people, land and water.  And, industry wants to turn their storage projects over to the taxpayer after the monitoring required by the U.S. EPA has been completed (which could occur as soon as 20 years).  Why should the taxpayer be burned with a technology that doesn't work, can harm us, and we don't want!

Carbon Capture, Transport, and Sequestration is a False Solution
Climate scientists all say we need to rapidly transition from fossil fuels to a renewable energy economy. But CCS keeps the fossil fuel industry funded, with tax incentives that allow them to keep doing what they know how to do best. If we can't stop CCS, then we at least need to have strong protections, like those provided in the Carbon Dioxide Transport Protections Act.  But even as we do this, we need to recognize that CCS does not remove any CO2 from the air. At best, it keeps emissions from entering the atmosphere.  But moving forward with an unproven, expensive technology now diverts our funding for technologies we know work, such as energy efficiency, decarbonization of buildings, renewable energy, and biological sequestration (e.g., preserving, restoring and expanding carbon sinks such as wetlands, grasslands/prairie, and forests; regenerative agriculture; and more).

1 comment on “Write a letter to Governor Pritzker!”

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