Farm group wants improved safety measures for pipelines running through Illinois

by Terri Dee
Illinois News Connection

A pipeline project to transport carbon dioxide captured from ethanol and fertilizer production to a permanent storage site in Illinois is raising concerns about safety and potential damage to surrounding land.

Last month, members of the Illinois Farm Bureau adopted policies supporting a temporary moratorium on the project until the Hazardous Materials Safety Administration can update its safety regulations. They include automatic notifications for pipeline leaks and training for emergency first responders.

Bill Bodine, the Farm Bureau's director of business and regulatory affairs, said his group opposes another condition.

"They expressed concerns about the use of eminent domain for these projects and do not support the use of eminent domain," he said, "and then want to see the developers reaching willing agreements, making some progress in reaching those willing agreements before the pipeline portions of those projects are approved."

Landowners are not willing to give up their land so easily. In 2006, the Illinois General Assembly passed a bill to limit the takeover of private property for private development. However, critics of the legislation have claimed it included exceptions that undermine any benefits to property owners.

Two more pipeline proposals to connect Iowa and Illinois are also being reviewed by the Illinois Commerce Commission, the agency that oversees these projects.

The Hazardous Materials Safety Administration hopes to have its safety revisions completed this year. If this happens, Bodine said, the Farm Bureau would lift its support of a temporary moratorium. But he isn't sure whether these other pipeline projects are on state lawmakers' minds.

"Our legislative session in the state of Illinois begins again in January and usually runs through the end of May," he said. "So, we may see some action during that timeline associated with some of these issues."

Developers say any future pipelines would help farmers by boosting the ethanol industry. The state Agriculture Department has said Illinois uses 274 million bushels of corn to produce more ethanol than any other state.

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