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Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Contacts: Hannah Lee Flath, hannahlee.flath@sierraclub.org, 860-634-0225
Lan Richart, coalition@noillinoisco2pipelines.org, 773-556-3417

After Navigator Temporarily Withdraws CO2 Pipeline Proposal in Illinois, Landowners, Community Members, and Advocates Call for a Moratorium on CO2 Pipelines

Illinois -- Today, Navigator Heartland Greenway LLC filed a motion with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) to withdraw its Application for a Certificate of Authority to construct a dangerous CO2 pipeline through 14 Illinois counties. While Navigator scrambles to review the project, landowners, community members, and advocates are calling for a temporary moratorium on CO2 pipelines in Illinois.

“Over the past two years, Navigator has been unable to obtain easements necessary for the project and has been met with fierce opposition from farmers, landowners, and concerned citizens every step of the way. As a result of this widespread opposition, Navigator has now withdrawn their application twice in under ten months, this time indicating they plan to reassess the route and other aspects of its pipeline,” said Steve Hess, McDonough County farmer and Board Member of Citizens Against Heartland Greenway Pipeline (CAHGP). “Make no mistake—Navigator is reassessing their project, but they’re not going away, and we will not go down without a fight. While we await federal regulations from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and state regulations on CCS projects from the Illinois General Assembly, a temporary moratorium on CO2 pipelines is critical in order to protect Illinoisans, our land, and our water.”  

PHMSA initiated a rule-making process to update federal regulations on CO2 pipelines after investigating a 2020 CO2 pipeline explosion near Satartia, Mississippi. The pipeline rupture sent a plume of CO2 that traveled 1.25 miles, required the evacuation of 200 people, and put 45 people, including first responders, in the hospital. PHMSA expects to complete its rule-making process in October 2024. Navigator and a second corporation, Wolf Carbon Solutions, have pushed CO2 pipeline proposals forward in Illinois despite this lack of federal regulations.

“Since day one, CAHGP and countless farmers, landowners, and community members across the state have urged the Illinois Commerce Commission to dismiss Navigator’s petition until PHMSA updates its CO2 regulations, Navigator acquires property rights for its carbon sequestration area, and Navigator provides sufficient information regarding the route and its impact on human lives. None of those asks have yet come to fruition,” said Kathy Campbell, Vice-President of CAHGP. “Meanwhile, Navigator has circumvented the Illinois Commerce Commission's regulatory process, which should take a maximum of eleven months, by withdrawing and re-submitting their application multiple times. They’re not only giving themselves more time to flesh out the critical details of their project, they’re also dragging out the stress and financial strain on landowners who have to keep fighting this project. Enough is enough.”

Amidst growing concerns that Navigator and Wolf Carbon Solutions’ hazardous projects would move forward without adequate protections, the Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines has spent nearly two years organizing and educating the public, townships, community leaders, and the Illinois General Assembly about the dangers of CO2 pipelines. Illinois lawmakers introduced legislation this spring to regulate CCS projects, but it did not move forward in the spring legislative session.

“While stakeholders work toward state regulations and while PHMSA completes its rule-making process, Illinois must pass a temporary moratorium on CO2 pipelines so that protections are in place before Navigator can move forward with their project,” said Pam Richart, Co-Director of Eco-Justice Collaborative and co-founder of the Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines. “Illinois is a primary target for polluting companies to dump their carbon dioxide waste underground, and we are unprepared to face the dangers associated with transporting and burying this pollution underneath our farms and aquifers. Navigator’s motion to withdraw its petition delays the regulatory process, but doesn’t diminish the urgency for Illinois lawmakers and Governor Pritzker to enact state legislation at every step of the CCS industrial cycle—at the capture facility, through pipelines, and at the sequestration site.” 


Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines
The Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines is a growing coalition of Illinois environmental groups, landowners, and residents concerned about the environmental, economic, and the unprecedented safety hazards associated with building a network of CO2 pipelines across the state. The coalition believes the mad rush to build these pipelines as part of the technology called carbon capture and sequestration is dangerous and a false solution that will keep Illinois reliant on fossil fuels.

Citizens Against Heartland Greenway Pipeline (CAHGP)
CAHGP formed as an intervening group in August 2022. CAHGP represents landowners, townships, and other local governments along Navigator Heartland Greenway’s proposed CO2 pipeline route who are concerned about the pipeline’s impact on public safety, infrastructure, the economy, and property values.

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