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The Great Carbon Boondoggle: Inside the Struggle to Stop Summit's CO2 Pipeline

Map tracing pipeline in red overlayed on Midwestern states

Map courtesy of Pipeline Fighters,

November 7, 2022

The Great Carbon Boondoggle: Inside the Struggle to Stop Summit’s CO2 Pipeline, unmasks the billion-dollar financial interests and high-level political ties driving the Midwest Carbon Express. Led by Summit Carbon Solutions, the project intends to build a 2,000-mile pipeline to carry CO2 across Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota, to eventually inject and store it underground in North Dakota.

Having failed to persuade enough landowners in Iowa to sign voluntary easements to construct the pipeline, Summit now seeks to obtain the land through eminent domain, which will be decided by the three-member Iowa Utilities Board (IUB). Summit claims that the project will capture, transport, and store 12 million metric tons of CO2 from its 32 bioethanol plants annually — the equivalent of taking 2.6 million cars off the road each year. Key investors include TPG Rise Climate Fund (US$300 million); Continental Resources, Inc (US$250 million); Tiger Infrastructure Partners (US$100 million); and the South Korean firm SK E&S (US$110 million). Deere & Company, Summit Agriculture Group, and partner ethanol plants have also invested undisclosed amounts. Summit pursued landowners in Iowa to sign voluntary easements and cede parts of their land for the Midwest Carbon Express

Summit also faces formidable opposition from Indigenous communities, who were not meaningfully consulted — all too familiar with the devastation such projects bring. They are alarmed by the influx of transient pipeline construction workers. “Man-camps” built to house out-of-state workers for large construction, fossil fuel, or natural resource extraction projects in the past, increased violence towards Indigenous communities, especially women. The report highlights other concerns that the project poses on tribal reservations and Indigenous communities living near the pipeline route, including land degradation, disturbance to sacred sites, and the threat of a pipeline rupture. Commitment to protect the land and their communities is driving the mobilization of Indigenous communities.

Finally, the report exposes that Summit Carbon Solutions’ economic profitability relies heavily on federal tax credits, grants and loans, and state-led incentives like low-carbon fuel markets. If the Midwest Carbon Express is eventually built, residents across the Midwest will bear the risks associated with the pipeline — potential leaks and ruptures, decreased property and crop values, increased violence against the Indigenous — while Summit Carbon Solutions, its financial backers, and Bruce Rastetter will reap the profits.

Summit Carbon Solutions report cover