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Friday, June 7, 2024

Sierra Club analysis: carbon pipeline would use billions of gallons of water annually

Sierra Club analysis: carbon pipeline would use billions of gallons of water annually

An analysis released by the Sierra Club and landowners who object to the proposed Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline suggests the project will require drawing well over 3.3 billion of water from Iowa’s aquifers each year.

“This is not a good use of our public water supply,” Jess Mazour, conservation coordinator for the Sierra Club’s Iowa chapter, said during an online news conference. “We need to ensure we have water for generations to come and not squander it on a private company.”

Mazour and others at the news conference said ethanol plants already use a significant amount of water and the pipeline would be an even bigger drain on Iowa’s water supply. “We have no idea how much water is below us underground,” Mazour said. “…Our bottom line is we need Iowa to take a long, hard look and study our aquifers and we need to deny water for carbon capture and storage for any company.”

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has already granted Summit a permit to withdraw up to 55 million gallons of water each year from a new well near an ethanol plant in Chickasaw County. Wally Taylor, the attorney for the Iowa chapter of the Sierra Club, said the agency “has been handling out water use permits like candy,” without considerating the impact on groundwater resources.

“The DNR sees its role as serving its customers and the customer is the applicant for a permit,” he said. “In fact, they used to call that portion of the DNR the Environmental Protection Division. Now it’s the Environmental Services Division. That tells you all you need to know.”

According to federal reports, it takes between 10 and 17 liters of water to produce ethanol. More water would be required at each ethanol plant site to cool carbon so it can be compressed, liquified and pushed through a pipeline. More than half of Iowa’s corn crop is used to produce ethanol. Summit and corn growers who support the project say the pipline is crucial to the survival of the ethanol industry, as more consumers demand fuel that has a low or no carbon footprint. Summit’s pipeline would sequester carbon from 57 Midwest ethanol plants, including 30 in Iowa.

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