IRFA: Legislation Creating De Facto Ban on Iowa Ethanol Carbon Capture Technology Hurts State, Doesn’t Protect Landowners

According to multiple news reports, today members of the Iowa House are expected to introduce legislation that would create a de facto ban on new projects that allow Iowa ethanol producers to install carbon capture technology. Based on a draft of the bill posted on the Des Moines Register website, the bill singles out CO2 pipelines for strict regulations that would not be applied to pipelines carrying flammable or explosive liquids.

“The difference between the rhetoric and reality on this bill is truly staggering,” stated Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw.

“We hear about property rights, but this bill wouldn’t impact the next Dakota Access oil pipeline or Rock Island Clean Line Transmission project. We hear about safety, but this bill doesn’t apply to pipelines that carry explosive or flammable liquids while CO2 is neither. Instead, this bill singles out for destruction the single most important technology we have to keep liquid fuels like ethanol competitive with electric vehicles in the rapidly growing low carbon transportation markets. It is no surprise that anti-agriculture groups like the Sierra Club support preventing carbon capture and sequestration from going forward.”

IRFA recently released a new study that found without viable access to carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), Iowa could see 75 percent of its ethanol production migrate to states that facilitate sequestration. Losing nearly 3.5 billion gallons of Iowa ethanol production would reduce the local corn grind by over one billion bushels, thereby lowering Iowa corn prices and harming the entire Iowa agricultural economy. This scenario is closer to reality as just last week both the South Dakota and North Dakota legislatures overwhelmingly rejected bills to restrict CO2 pipelines.

“The bill is a veritable cornucopia of unreasonable regulations narrowly targeted at CCS technology,” continued Shaw. “For example, section three of the bill would allow just two people to effectively veto an interstate CCS project even if that project had 100 percent voluntary easements. It would only take two county supervisors to enact an ordinance, like a setback requirement that is physically impossible to meet, and then the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) would be prevented from issuing a final permit.”

IRFA does not object to the provisions in the bill that clarify and expand landowner rights that apply to all projects that come before the IUB.

“IRFA continues to urge all Iowans to unite to find a fair and equitable path forward for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) projects – fair and equitable to landowners, CCS projects and communities,” stated Shaw. “Further, any changes to the IUB permitting process should apply to all applicants, not just CO2 pipelines.”

Detailed analysis of the legislation is available here.