Insights and Commentaries
Scaling up CO2 Pipeline Deployment in the U.S. – Findings from Listening Sessions Hosted by the Global CCS Institute
18th May 2023
The US is home to the largest number of commercial CCS facilities and CO2 pipelines around the world. There are currently 50 CO2 pipelines operating in the US through over 8,000 km which transport approximately 70 million tonnes of CO2 every year. With supportive policies in place, and after the passage of the IRA, these facilities are expected to ramp up exponentially in the next decade.
Permitting and construction of CO2 pipelines is on the critical path to successful carbon capture deployment in the US. While regulation is being developed and enhanced, engaging with, and educating communities will be key to smooth and timely deployment of CO2 pipelines. To better understand the issues and concerns with CO2 pipelines and facilitate discussions to develop solutions, the Global CCS Institute hosted three listening sessions between February 6 and February 17, 2023. The listening sessions were held with Institute Members and others with operations in the Midwest geographical region of the United States, Texas, Louisiana, and California.
The sessions revealed that community concerns over CO2 pipelines predominantly stemmed from three reasons:
- “Not in my backyard (NIMBY)”: Communities are not keen to have CO2 pipelines being laid in their area. This is a general NIMBY concern due to the temporary disruption that construction is likely to cause. As such, it is separate from but is exacerbated by concerns over safety.
- Safety: Communities are concerned about safety of CO2 pipelines; however, a lot of the concerns appear to spread through word of mouth and are not based on facts. It is also interesting to note that people don’t seem interested to learn more about CO2 or CO2 pipelines, unless it is likely to pass near their neighborhoods, in which case they become more interested. The Satartia, Mississippi CO2 pipeline release often comes up in conversations but is not well understood.
- Extending life of fossil fuels: This is a distant third cause of concern after NIMBY and safety, however it is one that is used by some groups to catalyze opposition.
The participants in the listening sessions identified the following as key steps for successful engagement with communities:
- Identify and utilize the right messenger(s), incorporating due diligence to thoroughly understand the communities, including the origins of concerns and the communities’ needs.
- Encourage operators to be proactive in devising various means of community engagement plans.
- Develop educational materials to familiarize the public with CO2, including its chemical properties, such as being nontoxic but acknowledging it is heavier than air and could be an asphyxiant.
- Identify and disseminate existing resources.
- Develop and issue factsheets to help with education and awareness raising.
As the US carbon capture, utilization and storage, and carbon dioxide removal projects are ramping up, hundreds of miles of new CO2 pipelines will need to be permitted and constructed. To better understand the issues and concerns with CO2 pipelines and facilitate discussions to develop solutions, the Global CCS Institute hosted three listening sessions between February 6 and February 17, 2023. The listening sessions were held with Institute Members and others with operations in the Midwest geographical region of the United States, Texas, Louisiana, and California. The listeners in the sessions included representatives of pipeline consultancies (DNV and Process Performance Improvement Consultants, LLC -PPIC), the University of Texas' Gulf Coast Carbon Center (GCCC), Southern States Energy Board (SSEB), and the Global CCS Institute. The Texas/Louisiana session also included listeners from the Texas Railroad Commission and the Texas General Land Office (GLO). The California Listening Session had listeners from California Air Resources Board (CARB) and California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA).
Feedback from the Listening Sessions
The sessions' goals were:
- To hear what messages operating companies and other attendees are receiving from communities regarding CO2 pipeline deployment in various geographic areas within the US, and
- To determine how the Institute and other carbon capture advocates can best support CO2 pipeline deployment in the US.
The following questions were posed to the participants:
- How are the participating companies engaging with local communities?
- A greater risk will always be associated with having a CO2 pipeline versus not having a CO2 pipeline. How are developers conveying to stakeholders their efforts to minimize risk likelihood/impact associated with a CO2 pipeline?
- Are there fundamental differences in how stakeholders perceive CO2 pipelines versus natural gas pipelines? Understanding perceptions unique to CO2 pipelines might help shape any response and may also become helpful in other jurisdictions. Knowing this may also help identify messages that those opposing CO2 pipelines are disseminating that are gaining traction in the community.
- What do communities see as the key concerns related to the deployment of CO2 pipelines?
- What is the level of misinformation that exists in communities?
- How are regional environmental NGOs engaging at the local level?
- Can perceived negative impacts be balanced by positive effects that help disadvantaged communities transition to carbon neutrality?
- What recommendations do the participants have regarding alleviating concerns about CCS?
- What is needed to close the gap between where the community is now to where it needs to be to overcome CO2 pipeline concerns?
Responses to these questions are summarized under the four following headings:
- Community Engagement State of Play
- Communities' Concerns Regarding CO2 Pipeline Deployment
- Level of and Reasons Behind Misinformation in the Communities
- Suggestions for Better Engagement and Understanding
- Community Engagement State of Play
The level of community engagement by companies is varied. Pipeline and power companies appear to have been more initiative-taking and are willing to discuss engagement strategies that could be considered for recommended practices. Pipeline companies began proactive grassroots engagement, which included:
- Getting in front of local and county commissioners,
- Establishing tribal outreach programs in conjunction with county commissioners' meetings
- Having meetings, open houses, outreach sessions, and collaborating with tribal communities,
- Engaging and communicating with local emergency response entities, and
- Holding stakeholders’ meetings with landowners regarding eminent domain concerns.
These community engagement sessions yielded the following insights:
- The engagement methodology tends to focus on education.
- Having company engagement with communities is better than having a third-party spokesperson.
- The communities appreciate discussions on safety.
- Communities are sensitive about pipeline location.
- A robust public affairs group is of enormous value for one listening session participant.
2. Communities' Concerns Regarding CO2 Pipeline Deployment
Communities’ main concerns over CO2 pipelines appear to be related to safety, eminent domain, and general pipeline siting.
- Safety is a primary concern. The Satartia, Mississippi CO2 pipeline release often comes up in conversations but is not well understood.
- “Not in my backyard” is a common sentiment toward CO2 pipelines in communities.
- There are concerns about what the pipelines transport. Generally, communities do not understand the nature of CO2 and are concerned about how CO2 will react. However, in some of the focus group studies, participated appeared uninterested in learning more.
- In the Midwest, eminent domain is a significant issue.
- It is important to explore how people are impacted personally. This type of consultation may present concrete solutions.
- Alleviating some of the concerns will be a process and will take time.
3. Level of and Reasons Behind Misinformation in the Communities
Misinformation seems to be spread through word-of-mouth where individuals hear their friends or someone, they trust speak out against CO2 pipelines, and they themselves do not attempt to check and learn the facts. The level of participant engagement varied in the focus groups.
- There is little or any understanding of CO2 characteristics, that it is not flammable or toxic.
- People do not know that CO2 is already a part of everyday life.
- Communities are unaware of how much CO2 is moving around them or the existing infrastructure.
- Sometimes, national NGOs not affiliated with the community bring in national agendas.
- Pipelines are often seen as prolonging the status quo, not promoting climate solutions or sustainability.
4. Suggestions for Better Engagement and Understanding
Developing high-level community engagement guidance and education resources is critical. Other specific suggestions included:
- Identify or develop resources that familiarize communities with CO2.
- Provide information that explains and addresses the chemical structure and how it impacts global warming while highlighting that the gas is not toxic, in language that is easy to understand.
- Make the resources and information widely available.
- While each community will be different, explore how to collaborate with communities to harness community benefits stemming from pipelines and CCS deployment in general. Identify grassroots expertise. Draw upon the value of learnings from other parts of the world, such as the North Sea.
- Explore the development of individual state-specific factsheet(s) to show what CO2 infrastructure already exists.
- Investigate the impacts of potentially other substances mixed in with the CO2 (ex., effect on pipe corrosion), which goes to understanding what is in the pipe and to safety—follow-up on the Department of Energy’s roadmap work.
- Identify what is being done to address geologic failures such as earth movement due to climate change (with PHMSA, pipeline consultancies, and academia).
- Learn from the methodology utilized by the landman – working one-on-one in communities.
- Collaborate with other entities, such as the American Petroleum Institute (API), in developing its API 1185.
- Explore the benefits of polling data and the type of data needed, that is, can community polling data be useful in doing community due diligence, and exactly what information is needed to understand the community.
- Add the appropriate context and explanation to pipeline safety testing information and videos.
CCUS technologies are essential for reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. Similarly, the United States requires significant carbon capture and storage infrastructure to achieve its carbon-free electricity sector by 2035 and its net-zero carbon emissions economy by 2050. Therefore, carbon dioxide pipelines are essential for CCUS systems. In the U.S. today, there are approximately 5,000 miles of CO2 pipeline. But significantly more pipelines are required to meet the net-zero goals. A 2021 Princeton University study suggests that such a network could total some 66,000 miles of pipeline by 2050, requiring some $170 billion in new capital investment presents one scenario for reaching carbon neutrality. Pipeline safety and understanding the nature of carbon dioxide are two critical criteria for the deployment of pipelines. Addressing safety and helping communities to become familiar with CO2 involves many groups: federal, state, and local agencies, tribal governments, pipeline associations, pipeline consultancies, large and small pipeline operators, local communities, and others.
The Institute, in collaboration with participants from the listening sessions, looks to develop critical informational materials to better inform these various groups. These materials include factsheets, a whitepaper, and a follow-up webinar.
Appendix: A selection of existing resources on CO2 pipeline transport and safety
- Global CCS Institute, “Understanding CCS Transport” Factsheet, https://www.globalccsinstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Factsheet_CCS-Explained_Transport.pdf.
- “A Review of the CO2 Pipeline Infrastructure on the United States”, https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2015/04/f22/QER%20Analysis%20-%20A%20Review%20of%20the%20CO2%20Pipeline%20Infrastructure%20in%20the%20U.S_0.pdf , April 21, 2015.
- “Carbon Dioxide Pipelines: Safety Issues”, https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IN/IN11944, June 3, 2022.
- Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA)’s “Annual Report Mileage for Hazardous Liquid or Carbon Dioxide Systems”, https://www.phmsa.dot.gov/data-and-statistics/pipeline/annual-report-mileage-hazardous-liquid-or-carbon-dioxide-systems March 1, 2023.
- Global CCS Institute, “Transporting CO2”, https://www.globalccsinstitute.com/archive/hub/publications/191083/fact-sheet-transporting-co2.pdf
This piece was written by Ruth Ivory-Moore, Policy and Advocacy Manager for the Americas with the Global CCS Institute