Illinois lawmakers, advocates consider future of carbon capture storage

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) — There is an ongoing debate in Springfield about how Illinois should move forward with carbon capture and storage technology.

Some argue that it could play a vital role in reaching the state’s 100% carbon-free goal by 2050. Although, environmental advocates told lawmakers Monday that they should protect communities from pollution and explosions.

The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition said a recent report from the University of Illinois Prairie Research Institute found that the state is “woefully unprotected” from risks associated with capturing, transporting, and injecting fossil fuels into the earth.

“With Illinois’ unique geological features, our state is poised to become a ground zero state for CCS infrastructure and waste storage,” said Christine Nanniceli, a Beyond Coal senior campaign representative with Sierra Club Illinois. “And we are currently unprepared and unprotected from the newly emerging scale of this threat.”

Sierra Club Illinois is also concerned about the future for farmers who don’t want pipelines built through their land. Advocates said House Bill 3119 could protect property rights, land, water, and livelihoods. 

“Simply put, this debate is about whether Illinois will grant authority to large corporation to force land owners to have industrial waste transported near their homes and store it under their property and then leave the taxpayers of Illinois holding the bag for any disastrous consequences which may occur in the years to come,” said Christian County farmer Karen Brocklesby. 

Some argue that carbon capture technology could play a vital role in reaching the state’s 100% carbon-free goal by 2050. Although, environmental advocates told lawmakers Monday that they should protect communities from pollution and explosions.

Meanwhile, Archer-Daniels-Midland has been at the forefront of carbon capture innovation since 2011. ADM operates two CCS projects at the corn processing plant in Decatur through a collaboration with the University of Illinois and the U.S. Department of Energy.

“These projects have successfully demonstrated the safety and effectiveness of CCS technology at a commercial scale and have collectively stored more than 3.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in a deep ceiling reservoir,” said David Rice, ADM Director of Innovation and Technology.

Rice told lawmakers that is equivalent to removing 815,000 cars from the road for a year. The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association said carbon capture storage is an innovative solution that could result in economic growth, more jobs, and reduced emissions for the state.

“Currently, about 16% of CCS capacity is utilized by power generation, 7% by chemical fertilizer, and only 2% by iron and steel,” explained IMA President and CEO Mark Denzler. “So, there’s tremendous room for growth in these sectors.”

ADM and the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association are supporting a plan encouraging the state to store more carbon dioxide underground. Still, Rep. Ann Williams (D-Chicago) and other statehouse environmental leaders said they’re skeptical about using carbon capture technology because they argue it will increase pollution intensity at power plants.

“We need to recognize and acknowledge and handle the regulatory gaps at both the federal and state levels to ensure that Illinois land owners, local drinking water, public health, and our climate are adequately protected,” Williams said.

Williams said her plan would ban the use of captured carbon for enhanced oil recovery and protect landowners from eminent domain for CO2 pipelines. The competing legislation suggests underground storage of carbon dioxide will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and require storage operators to receive permits from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

“Without CCS, it’s extremely unlikely that Illinois can meet its carbon reduction goals set in the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act,” Denzler said. “The IEA, International Energy Association, noted that ‘achieving net zero goals will be virtually impossible without CCS.'” 

Lawmakers could pass both plans before the spring session is scheduled to adjourn on May 19.

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April 24, 2023 at 07:07PM

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