Iowa Renewable Fuels Association reacts to Navigator CO2 pipeline cancellation

DES MOINES — Developers of the Navigator C-O-2 carbon capture pipeline announced on Friday they have canceled the project. Navigator’s 810 mile route through Iowa would have sent the liquid carbon to storage in central Illinois. Last month, South Dakota regulators denied the company’s pipeline route application for that state.

Recently, Navigator asked the Iowa Utilities Board to put its Iowa application on hold. Navigator’s C-E-O says as good stewards of capital and responsible managers of people, the company has made the difficult decision to cancel the project.

Monte Shaw of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association says Navigator’s decision was not a surprise after some of its permit applications were pulled, but Shaw says it doesn’t change the reality for the ethanol industry.  “I know there are listeners out there that probably think lowering your carbon footprint is a good idea. I know you have listeners that will think that’s just silly and some made up government program,'” Shaw says. “The bottom line is our customers are saying: ‘We want lower carbon biofuels.’ Our ethanol plants have to respond to that if they’re going to stay in business. The number one thing we can do to lower our carbon footprint is carbon sequestration.”

Shaw says the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association respects Navigator’s decision and continues to support other pipeline projects. “We think that carbon capture and sequestration is absolutely vital to the future of ethanol and corn growers’ prosperity and all of that,” Shaw says. “There are other projects out there and we’re going to continue to work with them and, ultimately, I do think we will be successful.”

Shaw expects some of the ethanol producers that had signed agreements with Navigator to seek another partner to capture carbon and ship it out of their plants.  “I think the two largest ethanol producers in the United States were part of (Navigator’s) system in Poet and Valero.  They’re not going to sit idly by. Now I can’t tell you what they will do, which system they may go to, maybe they look at another option that I haven’t even heard of,” Shaw says, “but I would be shocked if they weren’t looking at other options.”

The Iowa Utility Board’s hearing on the application from a different developer — Summit Carbon Solutions — is scheduled to resume next month. Summit executives recently pushed back the estimated start date for moving carbon through their pipeline by more than a year after permit setbacks in both North and South Dakota.