Marquis Director for Carbon Removal: 'The Neighbors' Air Will be Cleaner Thanks to Our Project'

Environmental groups and community leaders are questioning multibillion dollar projects of underground pipelines that would cross Iowa, alleging the projects' proposed greenhouse emissions reductions are false. 


In addition opposition is growing to the use of eminent domain to seize property for the projects. But a biofuel project in Illinois is starkly different from the Iowa project and is committed to a Clean Earth approach.

The Iowa Carbon Capture project has been been garnering media attention, and a recently introduced bill would block the use of eminent domain for the pipelines for one year, Iowa Public Radio reported.

The bill was introduced by state Sen. Jeff Taylor, a Republican from northwest Iowa, and would limit the use of eminent domain to only public utilities.

"I've heard from lots of farmers back home in northwest Iowa who are upset about the pipelines and about the likely use of eminent domain to seize part of their land or, to put it another way, to coerce an easement," Taylor told DTN.

"Some object to the pipelines for safety reasons, some because crop yields will decrease as a result of topsoil disturbance, and others just don't want to have a hazardous liquid pipeline forced upon them," Taylor added. "Three of the four county boards of supervisors in my district have registered opposition to the use of eminent domain for these pipelines with the Iowa Utilities Board."

The underground pipelines would capture carbon dioxide from ethanol or fertilizer plants, and the proposals argue they would greatly reduce greenhouse emissions.

But groups such Food and Water Watch say the projects are a scam.

"Capturing’ carbon won’t stop the climate crisis — It’ll dig a deeper hole," the group says on its site.

"CCS is a false climate solution, propped up by Big Energy and Big Ag so they can continue to profit," Food and Water Watch argues. "CCS relies on fundamental falsehoods to pull the wool over the public’s eyes about their real climate impact.

"Here’s how it’s supposed to work," the organization added. "Carbon capture attempts to trap greenhouse gas emissions from smokestacks [in this case from dirty ethanol plants]. It then transports the hazardous gas through communities via explosive pipelines, and injects it underground. In reality, these projects fail to capture all harmful emissions. They also don’t account for the pollution that goes into creating the ethanol in the first place. The industry also keeps quiet about CCS’ role in fossil fuel extraction. The dirty truth is that most of the captured carbon is pumped into oil wells to increase oil production."

But the Biden administration, in its recently signed $1.5 trillion omnibus spending law, included funding for carbon capture.

As the debate on the Iowa projects rages on, one biofuel company in Hennepin, in the Illinois River Valley, has started its carbon capture initiative. It explained to the Illinois Valley Times the differences between their project and the Iowa project.

That project, by Marquis Inc., is an ethanol, bio-refinery and a major source of revenue and jobs for the area. The Illinois Valley's geographical makeup, compared to the land in Iowa, is significantly different for carbon capture purposes.

"The critical differences between the projects are, first, Iowa does not have suitable geology for storage and requires a pipeline to transport the CO2 across many miles to a suitable storage location," Jared Walker, director of carbon removal for Marquis, told the Illinois Valley Times. "Marquis' industrial complex sits on top of the Mount Simon Sandstone and Eau Claire shale (caprock). We have the perfect geology for storing CO2 under our own land. No long interstate pipelines needed.

"Marquis can store over 100 million metric tonnes of CO2 in pore space in the immediate vicinity of the plant," Walker added. "Iowa CO2 sources will require a pipeline to the northwest, southwest or east. This will cross multiple land owners and possibly several states. It makes the project much more complex."

CO2 storage is not like nuclear waste storage, according to Carbon Brief, and many people compare both storage types as they don't understand the process of carbon capture. It is considered safer. In addition, bio-refineries have long played a role in reducing carbon emissions, Grow The Energy reported.

"If done properly, carbon capture is very safe," Walker said. "For the Marquis project, we have spent millions of dollars on extensive geologic studies to prove that there are no potential pathways for the CO2 to escape from our storage zone. We are also installing a very robust monitoring plan that will monitor the formations above our storage zone during the entire injection period and beyond.

"We are also monitoring the lowest freshwater zone [well below any of the drinking water wells in the area]," he added. "Compared to other industries that store gas or other liquids under the ground, we are the most secure and have the most robust safety plans and regulations."

Walker pointed out that Marquis is also installing a monitoring plan to track the CO2, which, he said, will never go under any residential areas.

"As mentioned above, first we have spent the money to properly characterize the subsurface where we are storing the CO2," Walker said. "We are certain that the 400-foot sealing layer will keep the CO2 where we put it. Second, our CO2 plume will not go under any residences, only under farmland, undeveloped land and our own plant.

"Third, we are installing a very intricate monitoring plan that will track the CO2 as it moves under the ground," he added. "If at any time it deviates from our projected path we will stop injection and reevaluate. This detection will happen well before the CO2 might reach any freshwater.

"The neighbors' air will be cleaner thanks to our project," Walker said. "Right now all the CO2 from the plant is released into the atmosphere. Once we start capturing the CO2, the air around the plant will have less CO2 content. If any amount of CO2 did escape the well, which is extremely unlikely, it would still be less than is currently being emitted."

Unlike the Iowa project, Marquis owns thousands of acres of land where the CO2 will be held.

"Marquis owns over 3,300 acres of land that will hold many years of CO2," Walker said. "We have also negotiated with surrounding landowners the use of pore space under another 5,000-plus acres. The great thing about using pore space is it does not affect the current surface usage."

According to Walker, Marquis is committed to regulations and Clean Earth.

"Marquis has always tried to be compliant with environmental regulations and do our part to ensure the Earth stays clean," he said. "Through our carbon capture project we can now take 1 million tons of CO2 each year that is captured by the corn plants during their growing season and remove it from the air permanently. Combine this big step forward with our vision for a low carbon industrial complex and other future projects such as sustainable aviation fuel, ammonia and others, and it just makes sense."

Walker added, "It will bring more clean industry to the area and make us a leader in clean energy while enhancing the value of the products we make. This value will be seen throughout the supply chain from farmers to end users. Marquis is spending the money to do carbon capture safely and correctly. We all live and work here and are making a better place for everyone."

Source: Illinois Valley Times