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Decatur should focus on CO2 sequestration projects with greatest economic impact

Central Illinois is considered to have among the best geological formations in the world for CO2 sequestration.  Decatur is extremely fortunate to be the North American Headquarters of ADM.  ADM is a global leader in CO2 sequestration and has been sequestering CO2 under the city for approximately 10 years.

Recently, the Decatur City Council approved an easement allowing for additional CO2 sequestration to take place.  Carbon sequestration can be a significant economic development tool.  New companies coming to Decatur such as InnovaFeed and LG Chem may use sequestration and related technologies to reduce their carbon footprints.  In addition, Warwick Carbon Solutions is building a first-of-its-kind power and steam plant that will sequester over 90% of carbon emissions, a technological advancement that could be a global game changer. 

When CO2 is sequestered it enters pore space and the pore space under the city is finite.  Thus, Decatur should optimize the economic development opportunities that sequestration brings given the limited pore space that it has.  Companies that relocate or expand in the City of Decatur such as Warwick Carbon Solutions, InnovaFeed, and LG Chem, bring with them permanent jobs and property tax revenue.  For example, Warwick Carbon Solution’s new power and steam plant is expected to bring over a thousand construction jobs and about two dozen permanent jobs.  The plant is expected to sequester up to 2 million tons of CO2 emissions annually. 

On the contrary, interstate CO2 pipelines that sequester CO2 under the city are unlikely to bring the same level of economic impact in the form of jobs and property taxes.  For example, the Wolf Carbon Solutions pipeline is projected to transport up to 12 million metric tons of CO2 annually, six times the total of Warwick Carbon Solutions, with fewer jobs and significantly less property taxes.  Furthermore, CO2 pipelines through highly populated areas bring an unnecessary safety risk.  Whatever the accident risk is from pipelines, if such an accident does occur, its impact will be larger in an urban area. 

Decatur offers companies tremendous infrastructure assets and thanks to ADM Co. CO2 sequestration is one of them.  Our assets should not be used on CO2 pipelines with limited economic potential that will substantially reduce our ability to meet the sequestration needs of new and expanding companies.  Instead, the city should focus on economic development projects that will bring the most jobs and tax revenue to Decatur.  Thus, if there is going to be a CO2 pipeline in the area, its sequestration should be in rural areas where industrial economic development opportunities are fewer. 

Today’s children and young adults are the first generation to experience human-intensified environmental disasters on an annual basis potentially resulting in decreased mental health and increased uncertainty about their future.  It is critical that action be taken to address our climate crisis for our and future generations.  Sequestration can be used now to reduce CO2 emissions while simultaneously serving as an economic development tool for communities that creates jobs and property tax revenue.  The same thing cannot be said for a CO2 pipeline within the city limits. 

Horn for Decatur
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