Group forms to stop CO2 pipeline project in Central Illinois

Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 9:02 PM CDT
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Pekin (25News Now) - A group in Tazewell County is growing quickly, all centered on the goal of stopping the CO2 pipeline that Wolf Carbon Solutions wants to build through Central Illinois.

The group claims the project is not safe and could compromise the farmland it’s built on.

“I think the general sentiment is, nobody wants it,” farmer Mark Berg said. He’s been working on fields across Tazewell County since the 1980′s.

He wasn’t really aware of the project until the landlords for the fields he farmed received a letter informing them they were possibly in the path of the pipeline.

Wolf Carbon Solutions has asked the state for approval to build a 259-mile pipeline from Iowa to Decatur. The plan is for ethanol plants along the way to deposit their carbon dioxide for it to be put deep underground in saline aquifer rock.

The proposed path for the Mt. Simon Hub Pipeline from Wolf Carbon Solutions
The proposed path for the Mt. Simon Hub Pipeline from Wolf Carbon Solutions(WEEK)

“I know as a farmer we need ethanol, and we cannot lose the billion-bushel demand for corn... but the biggest thing is safety,” said Berg. He’s worried there aren’t enough regulations in place to protect the families and workers along the path.

Berg and more than 1,900 other people have joined the Tazewell County: Stop the CO2 Pipeline Facebook group. Their main concerns were the safety and property values of their homes.

Group spokesman Elton Rocke says many people they speak with don’t initially know about the pipeline proposal.

“As soon as we start telling them, they’re immediately against it. They’re just shocked at the magnitude of it and how they’re trying to slide it in on us and the dangers of it,” said Rocke.

In our previous reporting, Wolf Carbon Solutions maintained they have a good safety record with their other pipeline. WCS is looking for state approval. If they get approval, they want to build the pipeline in 2024 and have it running by 2025.

A comprehensive story on everything we know so far about the pipeline can be found below.

Wolf Carbon Solutions sent notices to anyone within a mile of the pipeline’s path, but now they are sending teams to survey the land where it will be built.

Rocke is recommending anyone who opposes the pipeline deny the surveyors the ability to look at the land.

Berg remembers when two natural gas lines were built on some of his farmland, he worried the construction would hurt the soil even with the company’s help.

It impacts the productivity for years, five or more... the ground is just not the same,” said Berg.

The company has previously stated they want to work with landowners... but Rocke is concerned their consent won’t matter when it’s time to build.

“They came in and said we want to be your neighbors, we want to be your best friends and we’re going to give you all these benefits, but they have the veiled threat of eminent domain. Imminent domain was created for the good of the people not for the good of enterprise and not for the good of the company’s bottom lines,” said Rocke.

The opposition group wants to halt progress on the pipeline until more regulations are released from the federal government.

Those new rules aren’t expected to come out until October 2024. Illinois must decide on WCS’s proposal in May 2024.