Former Federal Safety Administrator Weighs In on Pipelines

by Brian Wilson
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–The Iowa Utilities Board will begin to hear arguments next month on the first of three Carbon Capture Pipeline projects that could be built in the state, two of which would travel through Kossuth County. Supporters of the projects say they will allow the ethanol industry to remain competitive in the years to come, as requirements for a carbon neutral product are put in place. Opponents have many concerns, including the potential to seize private property from landowners who do not sign an easement with pipeline developers. However, a former Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHIMSA) says that pipeline safety shouldn’t be one of them.

Brigham McCown is an Ohio Attorney that has held several roles within the United States Department of Transportation, including being named the first Deputy Administrator of PHIMSA by President George W. Bush back in 2005. In an interview with KLGA News, he says the regulations that would govern CO2 Pipelines would be the same as other pipelines running throughout Iowa today.

McCown says all pipelines in the country fall under the purview of PHIMSA.

In February of 2020, a CO2 pipeline near Satartia, Mississippi caused some 200 residents to be evacuated from their homes and hospitalized 45 after it ruptured and sent a cloud of C02 through the town. McCown says this incident was something out of the ordinary.

Opponents have cited the Satartia rupture to highlight the dangers associated with a CO2 pipeline, but McCown says it’s something that officials have learned from.

McCown says the Satartia incident also forced changes in federal regulations.

McCown says pipelines are a lot like air travel, people remember the handful of things that go wrong, as opposed to the vast majority of times when things went exactly as planned.

The IUB has scheduled the hearing for Summit Carbon Solutions and their proposed pipeline project to begin August 22nd at the Cardiff Event Center in Fort Dodge. The hearing is expected to run multiple days.

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