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Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Hannah Lee Flath, hannahlee.flath@sierraclub.org, 860-634-0225
Lan Richart, coalition@noillinoisco2pipelines.org, 217-607-1948

Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines Calls on Local Governmental Bodies to Adopt Moratoriums on CO2 Pipelines in Light of PHMSA’s Recent Commitment to Implement New Safety Measures

SPRINGFIELD, IL -- The Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines is calling on counties, villages, and townships in the proposed path of Navigator CO2 Ventures’ CO2 pipeline to adopt moratoriums and resolutions to ensure they are protected from dangerous CO2 pipelines. The coalition is urging local governmental bodies to act in response to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announcement that it is taking steps to implement new measures to strengthen oversight of carbon dioxide (CO2) pipelines across the country. The results of PHMSA’s investigation of a pipeline rupture in Satartia, Mississippi, and subsequent announcement that they are initiating a new rulemaking process reveals a sobering truth—the United States is unprepared to adequately protect communities and the environment in the event of CO2 pipeline failures. For local units of government, a one- to two-year long moratorium will provide time to create zoning regulations for CO2 pipelines while the federal government is preparing new rules that will improve safety and oversight.

On May 26, PHMSA released their investigation of the 2020 C02 pipeline failure in Satartia, Mississippi, which revealed a number of probable violations of Federal pipeline safety regulations. On February 22, 2020, a CO2 pipeline owned and operated by Denbury Gulf Coast Pipelines, LLC. ruptured in Satartia, sending a plume of carbon dioxide, which is an asphyxiant, into the air. The rupture required nearly 200 people to be evacuated, and 45 people needed hospital assistance. Emergency responders were also at risk as they rushed to rescue people affected by CO2 exposure, and three first responders were taken by ambulance to the hospital due to the effects of CO2 contamination and lack of oxygen. In the aftermath, emergency responders reported inadequate air supply respirators and sputtering gas-powered vehicles that would not run due to the lack of oxygen. PHMSA’s identification of probable violations in connection with this incident indicates a serious lack of requirements related to emergency preparedness and response, as well as a lack of preparedness to mitigate risks to property, land, and the environment.

“We’re pleased that PHMSA has duly investigated the pipeline failure that occurred in Satartia, Mississippi, and is now taking steps toward implementing new measures to strengthen safety oversight of carbon dioxide pipelines,” says Pam Richart of the Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines. “PHMSA is validating what we’ve known all along—CO2 pipelines are unsafe and unregulated and pose significant risks to the health and safety of local communities, homeowners, and farmers who depend on the land for their livelihoods. What happened in Satartia could happen right here in Illinois, and local units of government in the proposed path of a CO2 pipeline must act now to ensure they have regulations in place to protect them. Navigator CO2 Ventures should not be allowed to move forward while looming questions regarding safety regulations and mitigation options remain.”

Illinois' regulatory power is broad. The state's constitution explicitly states, “a home rule unit may exercise any power and perform any function pertaining to its government and affairs including, but not limited to, the power to regulate for the protection of the public health, safety, morals and welfare" (see Ill. Const. art. VII § 6(a)). Home rule power allows counties and municipalities along Navigator's CO2 pipeline route to create regulations that protect the health and safety of county residents, emergency response personnel, and livestock facilities by adopting setbacks that keep the pipeline a safe distance from occupied buildings and livestock, and by preparing coordinated, local emergency response plans.

“I’m asking my own County Board to issue a moratorium on CO2 pipelines, and encourage neighboring counties to do the same. The proposed pipeline would be constructed less than 1,000 feet from my home in Glenarm. I worry about my community’s ability to survive an asphyxiant of this severity and local responders’ ability to provide an escape route if their engines fail due to CO2 gas exposure,” says Kathy Campbell, a landowner that resides along the proposed pipeline’s path. “PHMSA is working to review emergency preparedness procedures, create safety standards for pipelines, and implement mitigation processes in the case of pipeline ruptures. It would be egregiously irresponsible for Navigator CO2 Ventures to be allowed to move forward with their plan to construct this dangerous pipeline while those safety measures are under consideration.”

Navigator's CO2 pipeline is set to be constructed across 240-miles of west-central Illinois by Navigator Heartland Greenway, a subsidiary of the Texas-based oil pipeline development company Navigator CO2 Ventures LLC. The pipeline will transport high-pressure liquified CO2 from industrial facilities via an underground pipeline through South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, and thirteen counties of Illinois before injecting the CO2 underground in Christian County, Illinois.


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.


Note:  Banner photo of CO2 pipeline rupture in Satartia Mississippi.  Courtesy of Yazoo Emergency Management Agency.

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