Summit Carbon CEO: Our carbon capture investment is earning Iowans’ support
By ensuring the long-term future of ethanol and supporting the agricultural economy, these projects are crucial for Iowa and the Midwest’s success in the future.
22 August 2023
Today, the Iowa Utilities Board will start the hearing for Summit Carbon Solutions’ carbon capture project. My name is Lee Blank, and I am proud to be the CEO of Summit Carbon Solutions. I was raised on a 600-acre farm near Garner, Iowa, and this is a project I truly believe in. It’s been more than two years since this project was announced, and 18 months since we filed our application. During this time, there has been much public debate about carbon capture, including its economic impact, landowner support, and pipeline safety. Today, I want to clarify some facts.
First, a majority of affected landowners support our project. Currently, more than 72% of the proposed pipeline route and about 90% of the proposed carbon dioxide storage area have signed voluntary agreements. This equals 1,260 miles of pipeline, 100 miles more than the Dakota Access pipeline, and covers 135,000 acres of the storage site. Impacted landowners support this project.
The strong support for our project is because landowners see carbon capture as vital for the future of ethanol and the wider agricultural economy. An Iowa Poll in 2021 found that about 85% of Iowans think ethanol is important to the state’s economy. This is because ethanol supports 50,000 jobs, contributes $6 billion to the state’s GDP, and buys 57% of the state’s corn. Carbon capture projects like ours ensure that ethanol producers can continue to bring these benefits. Without such projects, Iowa’s ethanol industry could lose $10 billion annually and farm income could drop by $43,000 for a typical 1,000-acre farm. That’s why so many farmers have signed agreements.
Safety is engrained in every decision we make. Our team has said from the beginning that we would not have started this project unless we were highly confident it was safe. More than 40 ethanol plants use carbon capture technologies, and there are 47,000 miles of pipelines in Iowa alone. Concerns were raised about a pipeline incident in Mississippi, but that was due to a failure to comply with regulations. In contrast, we will meet or exceed all regulations, and have completed thousands of biological, cultural, geotechnical and other surveys to ensure a safe pipeline route. During construction, we will exceed many safety requirements, such as burying the pipeline at least 4 feet underground and X-raying 100% of welds.
The economy constantly changes due to emerging trends and competition. Making necessary investments in infrastructure is key to creating quality jobs, competitive wages, and supporting growth in vital industries. Carbon capture projects are driven by this approach. By ensuring the long-term future of ethanol and supporting the agricultural economy, these projects are crucial for Iowa and the Midwest’s success in the future. We look forward to working with landowners and ethanol plants to advance this project through the regulatory process. The future is bright for farmers, ethanol producers, and rural communities, as we all continue to explore new opportunities and work toward a sustainable and thriving future.
Lee Blank is CEO of Summit Carbon Solutions.