Minnesota group files appeal on Summit Carbon pipeline environmental review

Iowa-based Summit Carbon Solutions says its $4.5 billion pipeline project will help ethanol plants, including the Green Plains Ethanol plant at Fergus Falls, Minnesota, lower their carbon scores.

The Green Plains ethanol plant at Fergus Falls, Minnesota. It is one of six Minnesota ethanol plants planned to be part of the Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline.
Jeff Beach / Agweek

ST. PAUL — A Minnesota group is asking the state’s Public Utilities Commission to take another look at a carbon capture pipeline proposal to take in the environmental impact of the whole project, not just a small piece.

The PUC is looking only at the stretch of the proposed Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline in Otter Tail and Wilkin counties, where Summit has filed a permit application.

The PUC on Feb. 6 denied a request from Montevideo-based organization CURE (Clean Up the River Environment) to look at the entirety of the Summit Carbon Solutions project, the bulk of the pipeline miles being in west-central and southern Minnesota.

Summit MN route.png
The Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline would connect six ethanol plants in Minnesota to a carbon storage site in North Dakota.
Courtesy / Summit Carbon Solutions

While Summit’s website details the plans for both sections of pipeline in Minnesota, the PUC said that without an application, the southern portion remains “hypothetical.”

On Monday, Feb. 27, CURE petitioned the PUC to reconsider.


"By artificially separating the Northern and Southern portions of the pipeline, the Commission ignored the will of more than 100 Minnesotans and failed to consider the cumulative impacts of the entire Midwest Carbon Express project on the state. By doing so, the Commission allowed a private company to decide how and to what extent it will proceed through the environmental review process, in direct contradiction to the intent of
(the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act),” according to the filing.

Summit’s pipeline would capture greenhouse gasses from 32 ethanol plants and pipe it to western North Dakota for underground storage. The company says that will benefit the environment, the ethanol industry and corn growers.

But some landowners have been reluctant to sign an easement agreement with Summit, citing concerns about damage to crop production and lost property values because of a hazardous liquid pipeline running through their property.

The five-state 2,000 mile project has an estimated price of $4.5 billion.

As of Feb. 6, Summit Carbon Solutions said it had signed 4,000 total agreements with landowners, or 1,250 total miles of right-of-way secured. The Iowa-based company says that's about 60% of the route in the five states — Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota.

Nearly 240 miles of pipeline are planned for Minnesota, crossing Otter Tail, Wilkin, Chippewa, Cottonwood, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Martin, Redwood, Renville, and Yellow Medicine counties.

One of the 32 ethanol plants that could benefit from the pipeline is the Green Plains plant at Fergus Falls, the only plant on the section of pipeline where Summit has filed for a permit.

Otter Tail Wikin pipeline route.png
The proposed route of the Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline through Otter Tail and Wilkin counties in Minnesota. The liquid carbon dioxide would flow west into North Dakota.
Courtesy / Summit Carbon Solutions

In November 2021, CURE submitted a petition signed by 186 Minnesotans requesting that the state conduct an Environmental Assessment Worksheet for the entire project.


“Hundreds of Minnesotans, including those who live in the southern counties impacted by this project, asked the PUC to review the whole thing because they’re in the dark about what the impacts will be, who will bear the real burden, and who will benefit,” Maggie Schuppert, CURE campaigns director, said in a news release. “Meanwhile, the company is going all over this part of the state signing easements and asking for access to water and other resources they’ll need for construction and operation. These pipelines are real to the people who live here.”

Wolf files for permit

In other carbon pipeline news, Wolf Carbon Solutions on Feb. 23 filed for a permit with the Iowa Utilities Board to construct a carbon capture pipeline across 95 miles in eastern Iowa.

Wolf is partnering with ADM on a project to connect two ADM ethanol plants to an underground storage site in Illinois.

The proposed Mt. Simon Hub project in Cedar, Clinton, Linn, and Scott counties would capture carbon dioxide at ADM ethanol plants in Cedar Rapids and Clinton, Iowa, and transport it 280 miles to ADM’s sequestration site in Decatur, Illinois.

Reach Jeff Beach at or call 701-451-5651 (work) or 859-420-1177.
What To Read Next
Get Local