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Monday, April 3, 2023

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

US Army Corps of Engineers to Allow Navigator Pipeline to Proceed Without Environmental Review or Public Input

Illinois – As controversy continues over the construction of high pressure CO2 pipelines in the Midwest, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is preparing to allow Navigator CO2 Ventures’  1,342-mile carbon dioxide pipeline to proceed without a full environmental review or public engagement. Despite the significant potential impacts of Navigator’s proposed project, the USACE is slated to treat the pipeline as 1,800 separate permits through a Nationwide Permit system intended to facilitate small projects with minimal impact.  The Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines is calling on the USACE to acknowledge the unique safety and environmental risks associated with the construction and operation of carbon dioxide pipelines and conduct an environmental impact analysis with the opportunity for public comment.

Documents obtained by the Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines through the Freedom of Information Act show that Navigator's proposed project would cross over 1,800 rivers, streams, and wetlands, primarily through open trench excavation. The pipeline would also pass under navigable rivers such as the Mississippi, Illinois, Missouri, Des Moines, La Moine, and Spoon. A spokesperson with the Rock Island District of USACE recently indicated Navigator CO2 Ventures’ project is “not out for public notice” and the USACE is “not soliciting public comment.”

“The USACE is misusing the nationwide permit process for Navigator CO2 Ventures’ project,” said Lan Richart, Co-Director of the Eco-Justice Collaborative and a member of the Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines. “Nationwide permits are intended to speed up approvals for small, single projects with minimal impacts. Using this permitting process to authorize the construction of the 1,342-mile Navigator project substantially overreaches the original intent of the permit program and does not address the unique nature of CO2 pipelines. Navigator’s proposed pipeline is a multi-state project with the potential for significant environmental, social and economic impacts, not a benign series of minor utility crossings.”

Carbon dioxide pipelines have never been constructed at the scale proposed by Navigator, and bring with them potential impacts that are not yet fully understood. Their pipeline will cross major rivers in the Midwest, including the Missouri, DesMoines, Mississippi, and Illinois. Yet, CO2 pipelines can rupture, as they did in Satartia, Mississippi in 2020, creating a 40-foot deep crater and resulting in an explosive release of gas that lasted for hours. Experts are concerned that an escape of CO2 into aquatic environments could lead to acidification, cryogenics, deoxygenation, and perhaps other impacts to sensitive aquatic fauna and flora.  In addition to these and other crossings, the project will excavate and disturb over 134 acres of wetlands. Although no restoration has been proposed, Navigator contends that there will be no permanent impacts to aquatic environments.

Although Navigator’s proposed carbon dioxide pipeline will be heavily supported by federal tax credits, it remains a private initiative. Therefore, with the exception of the USACE’s permitting process, there are no other federal actions that could trigger an environmental impact analysis  or public input required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

“With strong industry pressure to build out tens of thousands of miles of CO2 pipelines across the country in the coming decades, projects like Navigator’s proposed CO2 pipeline must be evaluated in their entirety in order to understand their impact on the environment and local communities. To do otherwise will set a precedent that a massive national network of pipelines requires  no environmental oversight or public transparency,” said Pamela Richart, Co-Director of Eco-Justice Collaborative and lead organizer for the Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines. “We urge the USACE to reconsider its decision to expedite the project.”

The Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines has initiated a letter-writing campaign to the USACE in the Rock Island, Omaha, and St. Louis Districts, calling on them to acknowledge the unique safety and environmental risks associated with the construction and operation of carbon dioxide pipelines and to  conduct a comprehensive environmental impact analysis with opportunities for public review and comment.


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.

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