Carbon capture ally for ethanol

To the Editor:

Although carbon capture technology has been in use for decades, the conversation around this topic has increased considerably in recent months, particularly here in Iowa. That is not surprising given that this technology now has the potential to provide a significant and long-lasting boost to agriculture and ethanol, which remain two of the most important drivers of the state’s economy. Today, the ethanol industry purchases 53% of all the corn grown and harvested in Iowa across 13.6 million acres and supports 44,000 jobs in the state. The positive impact this provides to Iowa families and businesses is almost impossible to fully calculate. 

Incorporating carbon capture technology into these industries will build on this strong foundation and position ethanol and agriculture for future growth.

A recent example of a project working with this type of technology is Ames-based Summit Carbon Solutions. This investment consists of partnerships with more than 30 ethanol plants across the Midwest, including 12 here in Iowa. One of those is CORN, LP in Wright County where I am privileged to serve as CEO. Summit Carbon Solutions’ initiative will accelerate our long-term efforts to reduce the carbon intensity (CI) score of the ethanol we produce. The direct result of reducing CI scores allows these ethanol plants to access low-carbon fuel markets found across the country including in Oregon and Washington, plus others that are likely to adopt similar standards in the years to come. This growing marketplace is willing to pay a premium for more sustainable fuel sources and represents one of the most significant economic opportunities for ethanol and corn growers in the years to come.

Failing to pursue this opportunity would have a potentially devastating impact on the state. As just one example, the CORN, LP facility utilizes 25 million bushels of corn every year, largely purchased from local corn growers in Wright County and surrounding communities. If the ethanol industry doesn’t remain competitive through carbon capture and storage projects like this one, these same farmers could face the real prospect of losing a marketplace currently purchasing more than half of their product. The adverse impact to corn prices and land prices would be substantial. These industries are too important to Iowa’s economy to allow that to happen. 

There are other benefits to this project as well. During the construction phase, the project would create between 14,000 and 17,000 high-quality jobs. Long-term, once operational, it would create between 350 and 460 full-time permanent positions.

Taken together, Summit Carbon Solutions’ initiative helps meet a wide range of priorities such as supporting ethanol and farmers. It is truly a win-win for our state’s future, and I hope state and local officials will allow it to move forward. 

Chris Boshart, general manager/CEO, CORN, LP

Boshart, Chris. “Covid Deaths Hit 80 in Kossuth County.” Kossuth County Advance, https://www.algona.com/opinions/carbon-capture-ally-ethanol.

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