- Richie Schmidt is president of Local 177, the Des Moines Labor International Coalition.
As president of Local 177, the labor international coalition, I have the privilege of representing the men and women who build plumbing systems in Iowa and across the country. Having worked in this capacity over the years and watching the work up close, I feel obligated to respond to September of the Register. 11 stories about the safety of carbon capture piping systems that, in my opinion, are misleading.
tomorrow:Builders swear CO2 pipes will be safe. Worried Iowa points to Mississippi rupture.
First, some people seem to think that pipes are rarely used, when in fact these systems are extensive and help keep our economy going. In the United States, there are 3.3 million miles of pipeline in use today, the equivalent of nearly 14 trips from Earth to the moon or 132 trips around the world. Iowa alone has more than 45,000 miles of pipeline, all of which help ensure homes and businesses have access to the energy they need. Pipelines are critical infrastructure without which our nation simply cannot run a modern economy. Let’s not pretend that the construction, materials, or operations of the pipeline proposed in the Midwest are new in any way.
In addition, the piping system is safe, especially for carbon capture piping using reliable and proven long-term technology. Today, dozens of ethanol plants capture carbon dioxide. Thousands of miles of carbon dioxide pipelines have been running for over 20 years without a single fatality. Geological storage has been studied by policymakers, engineers and others, and they have found it to be an effective and safe way to permanently sequester carbon dioxide emissions. No one can reasonably argue that the technology — carbon capture, transport of carbon dioxide, or carbon dioxide storage — is in some way new or hasn’t been used in years. This is not true.
Another point of view: We did the research and we oppose the CO2 pipeline
Pipes are also highly regulated to ensure they are safe. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, has broad and comprehensive regulations governing the construction and operation of any piping system. These regulations are continually evaluated and updated based on data to identify where new rules need to be developed. Rules for pipe depth, weld inspection, maximum distance between isolation valves, etc. are set by PHMSA and overseen by its team of experts to ensure compliance. It is simply wrong to imply or outright claim that these systems lack oversight to ensure safety.
What’s new about these pipelines is the broad benefit Iowa will reap. These projects will allow ethanol producers, so important to our economy, to sell their products in a growing number of states and countries that pay more for low-carbon fuels. This is critical because the ethanol industry buys nearly 60 percent of Iowa’s corn and helps ensure strong commodity prices and land values year after year. These multi-billion dollar investments will leverage local suppliers and help support local businesses to create economic growth. Companies developing these projects will pay tens of millions of dollars in new property taxes each year to help communities support key local priorities such as education, healthcare, infrastructure, public safety and more.
I hope Iowa will come together to support the carbon capture projects proposed by the state because they are good for our economy, they are good for our environment, and as someone who has been involved in pipeline projects for many years, safety comes first .
Richie Schmidt is president of Local 177, the Des Moines Labor International Coalition.