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Letter to the Editor: Don’t discount Iowa ingenuity in dealing with carbon dioxide

By Jeff Reints, Shell Rock

We are a third and fourth generation family farm in Northeast Iowa that relies heavily on the ethanol industry for a strong market for our corn. We are highly disappointed in the so-called “study” commissioned by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association’s advocacy of CO2 pipelines designed to benefit the private pipeline companies of Summit, Navigator and Wolf.

The study ignored other options for addressing the problem at hand. Most troubling is that the so-called study assumes Iowans cannot innovate to find ways to protect their land, farms and communities while also doing the right thing for the environment. Iowans are better than that.

In particular, the study ignores other options for the CO2.

Instead of paying billions to hopefully sequester and bury CO2, why not upgrade it to new valuable products like green methanol, DME (a net-zero diesel fuel replacement), and sustainable jet fuel. These are all “bolt on” to current ethanol plants and other CO2 emitters.

Some of these technologies are mature and some are currently being proven, but they are all better options than the unproven pipelines that will place permanent scars across the most fertile farmland in Iowa.

These options bring significant new revenues to ethanol plants and their surrounding farms and communities. It is estimated that an average ethanol plant can add $160 million per year of new revenue by upgrading its CO2 emissions to green methanol.

A green methanol solution qualifies for basically all the same tax credits and government incentives as the pipelines.

The largest freight shipper in the world, Maersk, will need 2 billion gallons of green methanol to power its fleet of ships by 2030. Currently the world only produces 170 million gallons.

What an opportunity for Iowa agriculture and ethanol to be a part of this demand for energy for the future. Combine this with cropping practices such as cover crops, no till, strip till, and reduced tillage, and we can generate a net negative carbon score for ethanol and methanol. What a win-win solution.

You must not take ingenuity out of the equation. These new technologies will be in place long before a hazardous CO2 pipeline is finished.

Just think of a pipeline to nowhere that is replaced by Iowans who did the due diligence to provide the best solution to CO2 emissions and at the same time provide another renewable fuel to this market for net zero fuels. All without a hazardous pipeline endangering our land and communities.

A Des Moines register poll shows 78% of Iowans are opposed to eminent domain for the CO2 pipelines.

I ask any landowner considering signing a pipeline easement to give time for these new technologies to blossom. CapCO2 Solutions is one company that has technologies of green methanol.

We strongly object to the assumption that the people of Iowa are not able to innovate to meet new challenges while still protecting their land, farms, and communities.

Jeff Reints is a corn farmer in Butler and Bremer counties.

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