A rebuttal to ‘Proposed CO2 pipelines are bad for Minnesota’


As Minnesota confronts economic challenges ranging from rising inflation, supply chain deficiencies, workforce shortages and more, it is increasingly important that we find ways to support and grow our critical industries.

At the top of the list is agriculture and ethanol. Corn production alone generates $7.5 billion in annual economic value to our state, while ethanol supports 22,000 jobs and contributes $2.1 billion to Minnesota’s gross domestic product every year. These two industries go hand-in-hand, as ethanol producers purchase approximately 40% of all the corn grown in Minnesota.

There are, of course, some who want to eliminate the ethanol industry and fundamentally alter the way in which farmers operate. Summit Carbon Solutions doesn’t share that view and our carbon capture, transportation, and storage project was initiated to open new economic opportunities for ethanol producers, strengthen the agricultural marketplace for farmers, and generate tens of millions of dollars in new revenues for local communities across the Midwest.

The project, however, has been the subject of a wide range of misinformation, including a recent guest opinion in MinnPost.

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The authors argue that carbon capture projects are not what farmers and rural communities “need.” Again, we take the opposite view. Summit Carbon Solutions is partnering with 32 ethanol plants across the Midwest, including six in Minnesota. Through this investment, these ethanol producers will be able to sell their product at a premium in the growing number of states and countries that have adopted low carbon fuel standards. Accessing these markets is absolutely vital to maintaining the competitiveness of the ethanol industry along with its ability to continue purchasing 40% of the corn grown in Minnesota and the positive impact that provides to land values across the state.

As for its broader impact on rural communities, it’s important to note that Summit Carbon Solutions will invest an average of $54 million in each of the counties in Minnesota where the project will operate – dollars that will support suppliers and local businesses across the state to generate additional economic growth. Moreover, the company will pay an average of $1.2 million in new property taxes in those same counties to help local communities support our schools, roads, public safety officials, and more.

For those who want to see meaningful steps taken to combat climate change, carbon capture is a critical step we can take to achieve that goal. A recent third-party study noted that, “scientists estimate that limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius would reduce the odds of initiating the most dangerous and irreversible effects of climate change” and “the amount of CO2 captured via (carbon capture, use and storage) each year would have to multiply by more than 125 times by 2050 from 2016 levels, to ensure that emissions stay within the 1.5-degree-pathway.” No one is arguing that our project alone will combat climate change by itself. However, no one can plausibly argue that we can reach ambitious environmental goals like net zero emissions without carbon capture and storage.

Despite what some may say, these systems utilize longstanding and proven technologies. More than 40 ethanol plants have carbon capture systems today. There are 3.3 million miles of pipeline operating in the United States, including 71,000 miles in Minnesota alone, operating under the strict and comprehensive regulations of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. And sequestration has been studied by researchers, scientists, and engineers who have found it to be safe, including the U.S. Department of Energy who noted, “CCUS (carbon capture, utilization, and storage) projects supported by DOE and other organizations around the world, which in 2019 injected more than 25 million metric tons of CO2, have shown no adverse impacts to human health or the environment.”

Having partnered with 2,000 Midwest landowners to sign 3,200 easement agreements, we look forward to continuing to hold public events and one-on-one meetings to discuss our project, review these benefits and have a fact-based conversation around any questions or concerns related to this investment. For those with questions, we hope you will visit

Scott O’Konek is a senior project manager with Summit Carbon Solutions Minnesota.


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