© 2024 WGLT
A public service of Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

‘Not in the public interest’: Commission staff recommends denial of CO2 pipeline in eastern McLean County

Two men and one woman are seated at a table with with words 'Illinois Commerce Commission' behind them
Jerry Nowicki
Capitol News Illinois
Illinois Commerce Commission member Michael Carrigan (left), Chair Doug Scott, and member Ann McCabe are pictured at a commission meeting in Springfield in November 2023.

An engineer with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has testified that the regulatory body should deny a permit to allow a carbon capture pipeline in McLean and Ford counties.

Gibson City-based One Earth Sequestration (OES) wants to capture and store carbon produced at its ethanol plant into three wells near Saybrook in eastern McLean County.

The McLean County Board voted in December to deny a special-use permit for installation of the wells, citing the lack of a safety plan, though the project remains pending before the ICC.

In testimony submitted to the ICC board on Wednesday, ICC senior gas engineer Mark Maple said the project “is not a benefit to the citizens of Illinois nor in the public interest.”

“With the endpoint of the route uncertain, it is impossible to determine what the route’s effect on landowners will be,” Maple said, adding the ethanol company has failed to obtain permits and land rights needed to build a sequestration facility.

Maple also said the One Earth has failed to submit an emergency response plan and commit to a “definitive budget” for training and equipping emergency response units.

That concern was also raised by Ford County Emergency Management Agency coordinator Terry Whitebird. He testified that the project's proximity to Gibson City, Ford County’s only hospital, multiple retirement homes, and the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley school district “poses a multitude of risks.”

Whitebird said One Earth indicated last week that its response plan is not yet ready for review.

When the McLean County Board unanimously denied the permit for wells to be installed, the board indicated that the county may reconsider One Earth’s request if it submitted a safety plan.

The proposal was the focus of multiple lengthy public hearings before the McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals last fall.

Supporters of carbon capture technology consider it a way to reduce climate warning carbon dioxide from being released in the atmosphere. Instead, the CO2 is liquified and injected into the rock deep underground.

Illinois People’s Action (IPA) was one of the lead critics of the pipeline proposal, claiming the proposal could jeopardize the safety of the Mahomet Aquifer, one of the largest drinking water sources in central Illinois.

“This is a demonstration that organizing works. These CO2 projects only benefit corporations while putting thousands of people at risk and endanger our water supply that over 1,000,000 residents depend on. People just won’t stand for it,” said Dawn Dannenbring, lead climate organizer for IPA.

An attorney for One Earth Sequestration, William Shay, replied by email late Thursday that One Earth Sequestration is "still in the process of reviewing" the filings that have been made in the case.

"OES will be prepared to respond to yesterday’s filings in the next round of filings which is scheduled for late March," Shay said.

The ICC has scheduled hearings on the proposal the week of May 20. The five-member board has a Sept. 18 deadline to issue a ruling.

Updated: March 1, 2024 at 3:42 PM CST
An attorney for One Earth Sequestration said the company is still reviewing the latest filings in the case and will respond during the next round of filings.
Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.