SHELDON—Hartley farmers think X maybe doesn’t mark the spot.
Those farmers along with other landowners near Sanborn and in O’Brien County had multiple questions for three officials with the proposed Heartland Greenway carbon dioxide-capture pipeline.
Navigator CO2 Ventures, a proposed spinoff of Dallas-based company Navigator Energy Services, is the company proposing the second potential CO2 pipeline in O’Brien County.
Heartland Greenway is different from the other proposed pipeline by Summit Carbon Solution, which is called Midwest Carbon Express and will cut through O’Brien County in between Primghar and Paullina with another section going south to Little Sioux Corn Processors ethanol plant east of Marcus.
Instead, Navigator will have two pipelines with one going from the southwest corner of the county and snaking through the northeast corner. Another pipeline will come into Iowa in Lyon County and run through the northern portion of O’Brien County.
The two Heartland Greenway pipelines will intersect at Valero Renewable Fuels, which is just west of Hartley, forming an X on the county map Navigator showed to about 300 people in attendance during public information meeting with the Iowa Utilities Board at the Crossroads Pavilion Event Center in Sheldon on Dec. 1.
The pipeline is deemed a hazardous material pipeline since it is transporting carbon dioxide, which will be liquidized, all across Iowa and to a plant near Decatur, IL, where it will be pumped underground.
With two pipelines crossing almost through Hartley, there was some concern about what would happen if the pipeline ruptured near the town of about 1,600.
“You are addressing liability, land environment, what about human life? What studies have been done regarding a potential break of a pipeline?” asked Rich Vande Werff, who lives between Hartley and Sanborn. “How are people impacted within a certain radius or distance of the break or an explosion?”
Steve Lee, who is the senior vice president of engineering and construction at Navigator, said the theory is it a half-mile radius would be impacted, but the company does not know exactly.
“What we are doing right now are called plume studies on certain levels of valve spacing and the pressures and diameters of the volume in there to get these plume sizes associated with a theoretical leak,” Lee said. “As we look at that, we slide through the route corridor and see what that potential impact radius is and who could be impacted with that.”
Vande Werff followed by saying “there is no question that it is dangerous to humans.”
Lee responded that carbon dioxide is dangerous at high concentrations.
At another point in during the meeting, Lee also said he would have no problem if his family lived near one of the pipelines.
Vande Werff added he heard the pipeline was staying away from populated areas but proposed route is intersecting half a mile from a populated area near Hartley.
“That’s why we are doing this and that’s why we are getting out. We are trying to do the due diligence. Are there better routes?” Lee answered. “What we’ve done is combine some that we think would minimize the collective impact. Now it’s getting the feedback from ‘Is there a better route? Is there a better way around?’”
The Heartland Greenway carbon dioxide pipeline consists of 1,300 miles of new pipe with 900 of those being in Iowa going across 36 counties. Eight of the 20 receipt points for the carbon dioxide will be with Valero plants like the one in Hartley.
Elizabeth Burns-Thompson, vice president of government and public affairs for Navigator, said the pipeline is a $1.6 billion investment in Iowa. It will bring 5,000 construction jobs to the state but only 50 will be permanent jobs. Teamster Unions are planning to fill most of the 5,000 jobs and Lee added the pipeline cannot be built without the trade unions.
Burns-Thompson, who noted she grew up on an Iowa farm and still lives in Altoona, said the pipeline should bring $25 million in property tax revenue while reducing the carbon impact by 50 percent.
But to get through Iowa, Navigator has to negotiate easements with the landowners in O’Brien County and Iowa since the pipeline will cross through their properties.
Navigator is offering the same deal Summit is to farmers and that is 100 percent of yield loss compensation for crops in year one during construction, 80 percent yield loss in year two and 60 percent yield loss in year three.
The payouts will be paid before construction on the pipeline.
Once the meeting hit the portion of questions from the public, there were not many statements made in support of Heartland Greenway’s proposed pipeline.
One landowner questioned if Navigator had the right staff to figure out how to put the soil back in the right sequence because if it did not, it would affect yields far past the three-year compensation period, according to his studies.
Another landowner, Jay Hofland of Sanborn, has a small piece of land affected. He mentioned some of the tile in the fields were put in during the Depression and wonder what would happen if the Navigator construction crews cut through tile that the farmers did not know about.
“It’s not just the damage in an easement, it’s upstream drainage that affects your yields and therefore your economics,” Hofland said. “How do we get treated fairly as a tenant? I’m not trying to comment good or bad on your project. It’s a legitimate concern that will affect a large number of people here.”
Lee pointed out each farm is unique in terms of where it is located and the different types of tiles.
“As we get this information, we are also coupling with the farmers, the landowners as well as drain tile experts,” Lee said. “We want to work with them on proactive solutions. One element is identifying the preconstruction and the integrity of the system.”
One woman wanted to understand what entities she would be doing business with. BlackRock is working with Navigator on the large-scale carbon-capture project.
“I would like to understand who the entity is, the ownership, because if you ask me to go into business, there should be a clear understanding of who you are doing business with,” she said.
Burns-Thompson said Navigator has a number of infrastructure funds with BlackRock.
Once last Wednesday’s informational meeting ended, landowners could start negotiation with Navigator.
The pipeline still needs to be approved by the Iowa Utilities Board and the projected petition file date is May. Any landowners affected by the pipeline can file a petition against the pipeline with the Iowa Utilities Board.
Navigator anticipates receipt of state and federal permits in the middle of 2023 and wants to start construction in the first half of 2024.