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Open Letter to Secretary Deb Haaland – Say No to Summit Carbon Solutions' Carbon Pipeline Project

November 23, 2022


Dear Secretary Haaland,

We are writing to share the Oakland Institute’s new report, The Great Carbon Boondoggle: Inside the Struggle to Stop Summit’s CO2 Pipeline, which sheds a light on the courageous Indigenous resistance against the Midwest Carbon Express – the largest proposed carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in the world. Led by Summit Carbon Solutions, the Midwest Carbon Express intends to build a 2,000-mile pipeline to carry carbon dioxide across Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota, to eventually inject and store it underground in North Dakota. The proposed route for Summit’s pipeline will pass near several Native American reservations and cities with high Indigenous populations across the Midwest.

While landowners’ opposition has garnered most of the media coverage, Indigenous groups are actively fighting against the pipeline, because the project threatens their land and sacred ceremonial sites and would create a detrimental influx of transient workers in their communities. Great Plains Action Society (GPAS), a non-profit advocating for Indigenous communities throughout the Midwest, is working alongside several tribes, including the Ho-chunk (Winnebago) and Umoⁿhoⁿ (Omaha) Nations, to mobilize against the project – a false climate solution that endangers the lives, lands, and sacred sites of communities that have already suffered tremendous harms because of the US government.

The Great Carbon Boondoggle shows that it is not the people nor the planet who will benefit from Summit Carbon Solutions’ pipeline project, but its wealthy investors, who will be major beneficiaries of the federal tax credit program and subsidies for carbon sequestration. Not only is CCS a costly and unproven technology, but it also risks poisoning precious drinking water of nearby Indigenous communities, by permanently contaminating underground aquifers. As carbon capture infrastructure needs to be built near emitting sites, facilities will further impact those already burdened by industrial pollution. In most cases, this disproportionately impacts lower-income, Indigenous, Black, and Brown communities – furthering a vicious cycle of environmental racism. In spite of this, the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) has denied a request from the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska – which has reservations in Dakota County, Nebraska, and Woodbury County, Iowa – to conduct an independent environmental impact study of the pipeline. The IUB’s rejection of an environmental impact study has heightened fears of the harm that would occur across Indigenous communities if the Midwest Carbon Express is built – concerns that have so far been entirely ignored by Summit Carbon Solutions and the government.

Projects such as the Midwest Carbon Express go against most of the stated priorities of the Department of Interior, threatening the environment and water resources, undermining Indigenous rights and livelihoods, and sustaining the fossil fuel industry and large-scale chemical agriculture. As the Secretary of the Department and a respected Indigenous leader who fights to ensure Native issues and voices are heard, we call on you to take immediate action to oppose and end federal support for such projects.

Thank you for your time and careful consideration.


Anuradha Mittal
Executive Director
The Oakland Institute