Yesterday, 30 groups sent a letter to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) requesting that the federal agency issue an advisory to states recommending that they refrain from permitting any new carbon dioxide pipelines until the PHMSA regulations are final. Groups also requested that the agency hold a public meeting on the urgent need for a rigorous rulemaking.
PHMSA announced its carbon pipeline safety rulemaking in May, citing serious safety concerns with current regulations, laid bare by a 2020 rupture in Satartia, Mississippi that forced the evacuation of 200 people and sent 45 to the hospital. California has already established a moratorium on certain carbon pipeline projects until PHMSA finalizes its regulations.
Carbon pipelines pose significant dangers to public health and safety. Ruptures can expel lethal levels of carbon dioxide, an invisible asphyxiant, for miles. What’s more, carbon dioxide displaces oxygen, stalling combustion engines and impairing emergency response services.
The request for federal action to safeguard public health, safety and the climate, comes as carbon pipeline corporations scramble to profit off of massive federal taxpayer subsidies. The Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law this year, raised Section 45Q tax credits 70%; as a result, three companies proposing carbon pipelines in the Midwest are poised to cash in on $40 billion taxpayer dollars. All told, Summit Carbon Solutions, Navigator Heartland Greenway and Wolf Carbon have proposed 3,650 miles of hazardous pipeline across six states: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. The plans have generated tremendous opposition, establishing the Midwest as a key battleground for the future of carbon capture pipelines.
Food & Water Watch Policy Director Jim Walsh said:
“Carbon capture and the hazardous pipelines it relies on are a danger to public health, safety and our climate. It would be ludicrous to allow pipeline corporations eager to cash in on a gold rush of federal subsidies to run roughshod over communities while the federal government is still evaluating the explicit dangers of those proposals. PHMSA must direct states to halt carbon pipeline approvals — these projects are far too dangerous to proceed.”
According to Carolyn Raffensperger, Executive Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network, “The disaster in Satartia illustrated the unique hazard posed by CO2 pipelines. The CO2 shipped through these pipelines is an asphyxiant and can kill very quickly. States owe it to their communities to wait until PHMSA has filled its knowledge gaps and finalized its rule before even considering permits for these lethal pipelines.”
Original letter signatories include 350.org, Bold Alliance, Science and Environmental Health Network, Climate Investigations Center, Food & Water Watch, Center for Biological Diversity, Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility and Great Plains Action Society. The letter was initiated by a working group convened by the Science and Environmental Health Network.
Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]