Joint Letter to TPG Rise Climate — Divest from Summit Carbon Solutions' Carbon Pipeline Project
Executive Chairman and Founding Partner, TPG
Managing Partner, TPG Rise Climate
345 California Street
Suite 3300, San Francisco, CA 94104
Dear Mr. Coulter,
We are writing to urge TPG Rise Climate to withdraw its investments from Summit Carbon Solutions’ carbon capture and storage (CCS) project — a false climate solution to the climate emergency, which is delaying the transition away from fossil fuels. By backing the Midwest Carbon Express, TPG Rise Climate is contradicting TPG’s stated sustainability commitments — namely the “deliberate consideration of material environmental, social and governance factors throughout the investment process,” including “climate change, social justice, and diversity, equity and inclusion.”
The Oakland Institute report, The Great Carbon Boondoggle: Inside the Struggle to Stop Summit’s CO2 Pipeline, details how the Midwest Carbon Express — the largest CCS project in the world — constitutes a dangerous and false solution. Led by Summit Carbon Solutions, the project 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. CCS projects like the Midwest Carbon Express have systematically overpromised and underdelivered. Despite billions of taxpayer dollars spent on carbon sequestration to date, the technology has failed to significantly reduce CO2 emissions and is neither feasible nor economic at scale. Crucially, the ability to capture and safely contain CO2 permanently underground remains unproven, a dangerous uncertainty given CO2 must be stored underground for thousands of years without leaking to effectively reduce emissions. This also risks permanently contaminating underground aquifers — poisoning precious drinking water for nearby communities.
Additionally, applying CCS to industrial sources such as ethanol plants, as Summit plans to do, requires the creation of massive infrastructure and transportation of carbon to storage sites. Injecting it underground poses new environmental, health, and safety hazards in neighboring communities. As carbon capture infrastructure needs to be built near emitting sites, facilities will further impact those already burdened by industrial pollution. In many cases, this disproportionately impacts lower-income, Indigenous, Black, and Brown communities — furthering a vicious cycle of environmental racism.
Indigenous groups in Iowa are rising up in resistance because of the pipeline’s threats to their land and sacred ceremonial sites, as well as the detrimental impact of the influx of transient workers on their communities.
Furthermore, ethanol is at least 24 percent more carbon-intensive than gasoline and comes from the polluting industrial production of corn. The project will sustain the ethanol industry despite its harmful impacts on the environment and rural communities. If the Midwest Carbon Express is built, residents across the Midwest will bear the environmental, health, and safety hazards associated with the pipeline, including potential leaks and ruptures, decreased property and crop values, and increased violence against Indigenous communities.
To date, CCS has primarily been used to prop up the ineffective and environmentally unsustainable fossil fuel energy system. In the US, a dozen carbon capture plants are in operation — the majority of which are attached to ethanol, natural gas processing, or fertilizer plants — which generate emissions that are high in CO2. Over 95 percent of the CO2 captured by these plants is currently used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) — where instead of storing the captured CO2, it is injected into depleted underground oil reservoirs to boost oil production in wells. Bruce Rastetter, the founder of Summit Carbon Solutions, has himself stated that “Summit is also exploring other options, including injecting the gas into depleted oil fields to boost oil production.” Further revealing are the ties between CCS and the fossil fuel industry — the Midwest Carbon Express is receiving substantial investments from Continental Resources, one of the US’ biggest oil producers, and SK E&S, South Korea’s largest private gas supplier.
Given the findings of the report, we call on TPG Rise Climate to live up to its Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles by withdrawing your investment from the pipeline. Instead of funding CCS projects like the Midwest Carbon Express, TPG Rise Climate should invest in proven and scalable solutions to the climate crisis, including clean renewable energy like solar and wind.
We remain available to provide any additional information and look forward to your response.
The Oakland Institute
Christine Nobiss, Great Plains Action Society
Devyn Hall, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
Jaylen Cavil, Des Moines Black Liberation Movement
Scott Roland, Sunrise Movement Cedar Rapids