Yesterday was another episode in the saga of not only carbon pipelines but Indigenous rights more broadly.
There is increasing pressure from many places to use the idea of carbon capture and storage to meet the goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Biden administration is supporting this unproven technology, which even if it worked would not impact global greenhouse gas concentrations. This is something I’ve written about extensively.
(See: https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/?s=carbon+pipeline )
Yesterday and today public meetings are being held in Des Moines by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) Technical Safety Panel (See: https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/2023/05/31/carbon-pipeline-safety-meeting/ )
Carbon dioxide (CO2) pipelines are classified as carrying hazardous materials because they pose significant safety risks in case of a rupture. CO2 is a colorless, odorless gas that can displace oxygen and cause asphyxiation at high concentrations. It can also travel long distances from the pipeline after a leak, creating a large danger zone for people and animals. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), CO2 pipelines require special safety measures such as corrosion control, leak detection, emergency response plans, and public awareness programs.
There is environmental racism in building pipelines and storage facilities near Indigenous lands. This occurred when the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline was moved away from Bismark, to Standing Rock, when Bismark residents feared contamination of their water.
This environmental racism also facilitates the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives because of the “man camps” of pipeline/storage construction workers.
Now there is a similar situation, where landowners, developers, and politicians in Bismark are opposing a proposed carbon dioxide storage project near them.
Not in my backyard
They are showing up in earnest in opposition to the Midwest Carbon Express pipeline, a plan of Summit Carbon Solutions to gather up 12 million tons of CO2 from 31 ethanol plants in five states and send it through pipelines to be sequestered at an underground storage facility in western North Dakota.
The project is well underway, but an apparently well-funded and vocal group of folks, many of them who no doubt appreciate the jobs and tax revenues provided by fossil fuels, are fighting the proposed pipeline tooth and nail.
To be fair, these developers, home builders, politicians and homeowners don’t seem to oppose the pipeline in general, they just don’t want it to be close to places where they live or where they might enrich their businesses with new housing development and construction.
In other words, they don’t mind if the pipeline impacts someone else, they just don’t want it to impact them.Speaking out: Liking the upside means accepting the downside by Steve Andrist, The Bismark Tribune, 5/31/2023
Great Plains Action Society
My friends at the Great Plains Action Society continue to teach us about Indigenous views and rights. My friend Sikowis Nobiss worked to have a panel discussion related to Indigenous peoples as part of this PHMSA gathering. You can hear her, and others’ remarks here: https://fb.watch/kUlb4S3XCb
Sikowis spoke about most tribal nations not being consulted about these pipelines.
And spoke about the safety equipment that is required for first responders wherever the pipeline is built. Such as oxygen supplies and electric vehicles. Leaked carbon dioxide can spread quickly and stays near the ground, potentially causing asphyxia. Sikowis asks, where is the money going to come from for tribal nations to purchase such safety equipment?
She also spoke about the biome below ground and how we don’t know how pipelines and carbon storage affect that.
Sikowis concluded by pointing out how these are unproven technologies. And asks for a moratorium on these projects until more research is done.
Our Executive Director, Sikowis Nobiss, is speaking today on the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) Technical Safety Panel regarding safety concerns in light of several proposed projects slated for Iowa and the Great Plains region after a recent incident in 2021 at Satartia, Mississippi. Earlier this year PHMSA has stated updated safety regulations tailored specifically for carbon dioxide pipelines are needed and will take 1-3 years to establish—the same timeframe these proposed projects aim for completion.
As such, we call for a federal moratorium until regulations are complete and moreover don’t believe they should be actualized at all! Rather, re-Matriation of Prairie can safely, effectively and efficiently sequester carbon dioxide just as good or better than any of these techno-solutions.
(See video here: https://fb.watch/kUlb4S3XCb/)
It was very important that Sikowis was able to speak during the PHMSA meeting.
We had also planned to hold a rally outside the Marriott Hotel the meetings were held at. Unfortunately our efforts were thwarted by police who were working for the hotel. So we gathered across the street with our signs, and people spoke about these issues.