BlackRock-Backed carbon capture pipeline for US ethanol hits regulatory roadblock

Oct 26, 2023

A substantial effort to construct a carbon capture pipeline for the US corn ethanol industry, backed by BlackRock Inc. and key players in ethanol production, has been halted due to regulatory challenges and opposition from landowners.  

Navigator CO2, headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, had proposed the extensive Heartland Greenway project, covering over 1,300 miles across five Midwestern states. However, this project has now been canceled. 

The project initially garnered support from prominent investors, including BlackRock, leading ethanol manufacturer Poet LLC, and fuel producer Valero Energy Corp. In a statement, Navigator CO2 cited the unpredictable and complex nature of the regulatory and government processes, particularly in South Dakota and Iowa, as the primary reasons for scrapping the pipeline project. This development raises concerns about the feasibility of similar initiatives backed by major players in the agriculture and fuel sectors. 

Meanwhile, Summit Carbon Solutions, which aspired to build an even larger carbon dioxide pipeline, encountered setbacks when North Dakota denied its permit application in August. Summit Carbon, a subsidiary of Summit Agriculture Group, now seeks to capitalize on Navigator's exit from the market. 

Bruce Rastetter, CEO of Summit Agriculture, expressed the company's readiness to accommodate ethanol plants that were initially involved in the Heartland Greenway project. Navigator CO2 spokesperson Elizabeth Burns-Thompson mentioned that while Navigator has not engaged in discussions with Summit, the plants previously contracted for the canceled project are now free to explore alternative options. 

Projects centered on capturing emissions from ethanol plants are viewed as crucial for the industry to leverage potentially lucrative tax credits presented in the President's climate bill. These incentives aim to facilitate the transition to a less-polluting energy economy in the fight against climate change. 

The abandonment of the Heartland Greenway project underscores the formidable challenges facing carbon capture initiatives in the agriculture sector and underscores the need for robust regulatory support to ensure their success. 

Source : wisconsinagconnection
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