CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WMBD) — Wolf Carbon Solution’s application for a carbon dioxide pipeline through Illinois should be denied, two staff members of the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) said in testimony on Tuesday.
Brett Seagel, a gas engineer in the ICC’s Safety and Reliability Division, said the company has met just three of the eight requirements needed to be certified to construct a CO2 pipeline.
Moreover, he said feedback from people affected by the construction of the pipeline “displays the unpopularity and safety concerns of the public.”
Prabesh Bista, an analyst for the Financial Analysis Division, said that without a binding agreement between Wolf Carbon and Archer Daniels Midland Co., she could not say if the pipeline company possessed the financial means to complete the $600 million project.
In addition, the commission received testimony from David Tuttle, who is the president of the Peoria County Fire Chiefs Association and serves as chief for the Logan-Trivoli Fire Protection District.
Tuttle said his department does not possess the type of vehicles needed if there was an emergency in his locale of the sort that creates a carbon dioxide plume.
He also said that neighboring fire districts – Brimfield and Timber Hollis – also lacked that same capability to respond and evacuate people within a CO2 plume zone.
Wolf Carbon is seeking a certificate of authority to construct and operate the Illinois portions of the Mount Simon Hub pipeline system. It also needs an order authorizing it to take and acquire easements and interests in private property according to the eminent domain provision of the Carbon Dioxide Transportation and Sequestration Act.
The Illinois portion of the project would cost an estimated $600 million. In its entirety, the project costs $1 billion.
Seagel, in his role for reviewing the application, said Wolf Carbon has not been able to notify several hundred of the potentially affected landowners, that there is not a finalized agreement with ADM, that it has not yet completed all the paperwork required as an operator with either the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, that it does not have an emergency response plan and that the application itself is inconsistent with the purpose of the law.
Specifically on that last point, Seagel said that while the act says carbon dioxide pipelines are in the public interest, it also states they are critical to the promotion and use of Illinois coal. Seagel said the Wolf Carbon pipeline will be used to transport CO2 from Iowa ethanol facilities in Cedar Rapids and Clinton, and thus doesn’t match the purpose of the act.
Until the company secures an ending point for the pipeline, other aspects of the route could change, including construction methods and safety precautions.
“The pipeline route is at the very center of this case,” Seagel testified. “It determines which landowners are affected, and thus notified, of this certification process.”
Seagel also testified that Wolf Carbon has met some of the initial criteria to gaining certification. The company is highly experienced in operating and constructing pipelines, such as the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line. He said the methods Wolf Carbon used to determine the route for the pipeline are sound.
The aforementioned PHMSA said it plans to implement new measures and safety standards for CO2 pipelines. The state legislature is considering a bill on safety related to pipelines, HB3803.
Given pending changes, Seagel gave his opinion that the commission should proceed cautiously before issuing a certificate.