Steve Cahalan – MD FACS
List of IUB Dockets: HLP-2021-0001 (Summit Carbon Solutions LLC, Petition
for a Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Permit)
I am writing in support of the Summit Pipeline. I As a surgeon who uses CO2 whenever I perform laparoscopic surgery I have been upset by the level of misinformation regarding the safety of this proposed pipeline in public comments I’ve read in both the Des Moines Register and the Cedar Rapids Gazette and from the Sierra Club. I may not understand the process very well regarding how the board uses newspaper reports but I feel the need to discuss the media misinformation here. I apologize if this is unnecessary for your purposes.
First of all, both papers discuss a pipeline leak that occurred in Sartoria, Mississippi in Feb, 2022. In the Gazette I read a report that there was an explosion, which none of the reports in Mississippi said and is impossible to occur with CO2. As an aside, we use CO2 in surgery because it is not flammable and is not explosive. It is extremely safe to use, in fact, we inject it into the abdomen under pressure during our laparoscopic surgeries. Then we use continuous and intermittent electrocautery to control bleeding and cut tissue. In 35 years of doing laparoscopic surgery in thousands of patients I have never seen or even worried about explosions or even flammability in the CO2 under pressure we use during these surgeries.
The Mississippi leak contained both CO2 and Hydrogen Sulfide in a low-lying area. While it is unproven and there is a possibility that CO2 can displace oxygen in low-lying areas, the greatest contributor to the illnesses that occurred was the Hydrogen sulfide, not the CO2. The description of the illnesses is consistent with hydrogen sulfide poisoning, not CO2. I refer you to this CDC article on Hydrogen sulfide.
The Summit pipeline will be mostly 6-10 inches in diameter across most of our state- it will get larger as it gets closer to North Dakota and accepts more branches. It will only transport CO2 in a liquid form, which further reduces the risk of a CO2 cloud displacing oxygen. Every weld will be X-rayed which is more than the law requires for pipelines and further reduces the risk of leakage from the pipe.
Full disclosure, I am an investor in the Summit pipeline but I have not consulted with them for these comments. I invested because I believe the economic benefits for our state and our Ethanol industry are substantial, the benefits for our atmosphere are also substantial and the fact that ethanol will be a carbon neutral fuel should be something all sides of this issue should agree is desirable. The fact that organizations such as the Sierra Club are arguing against this should raise questions as to their motivation. I thought they would love to have a carbon neutral fuel, isn’t reducing CO2 emissions one of their top priorities in their fight against global warming? I suspect their real goal is to get rid of combustion engines altogether and return us to the horse and buggy era (by the way, horses, like humans, emit CO2 with every breath they take!
Thanks for your time. Please support our state, our ethanol industry and our atmosphere and support this pipeline!
Steve Cahalan, MD FACS