The Sangamon County Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to oppose the current carbon dioxide (CO2) pipeline proposal. The proposed Navigator Pipeline by Heartland Greenway has ignited a fierce debate centered around safety, property values, and environmental impact.
The Navigator Pipeline, envisioned to stretch through farms and neighborhoods, was slated to transport CO2 from ethanol and fertilizer plants across the Midwest and inject it underground in Sangamon and Montgomery Counties. However, the project has been met with vocal opposition from residents and local officials demanding more comprehensive answers to their questions.
Greg Stumpf, Sangamon County Board member representing District 16, said, "We are opposing any legislation by the state of Illinois or the federal government to approve pipelines coming through our county until all these things are answered... We're not saying no. But we're saying no for now."
The core concerns revolve around the potential impact on roads, property values, and, most importantly, safety. Stumpf emphasized, "We want to know everything about this process, and we want to make sure it's safe; that’s the main thing."
This decision by the Sangamon County Board follows a large display of public opposition. Just weeks prior, nearly 500 individuals gathered at the Bank of Springfield Convention Center to voice their fears about safety hazards, the destruction of farmland, and the potential risks to drinking water.
The enacted moratorium effectively puts a hold on constructing CO2 pipeline and sequestration projects within Sangamon County until December 31, 2023. During this hiatus, the Illinois General Assembly will be tasked with considering legislation aimed at regulating critical aspects like modeling and setbacks, which are crucial for ensuring safety. Additionally, the moratorium safeguards the county as the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) finalizes its rule-making process, expected to introduce enhanced safety measures and improved oversight.
In response to the Sangamon County Board's decision, the Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines released a statement. Kathy Campbell, a Sangamon County landowner, and member of the Coalition, stated, "The expansion of the existing CO2 pipeline moratorium is a critical step to protect residents while we await federal and state regulations on CCS projects... We need improved modeling and public disclosure of modeling results to ensure a CO2 pipeline’s route will, in the event of a rupture, be set back far enough to keep communities, rural residences, and sensitive land uses safe."
The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) is expected to rule on the Navigator Pipeline project in early 2024.