Carbon Pipeline Company Moves Headquarters to West Omaha | State and Area News
OMAHA – Navigator CO2, a carbon management company, recently moved its headquarters to west Omaha.
The company’s move from Dallas marks a notable step in its investments in Nebraska, where it plans to build nearly 120 miles of pipeline in the eastern part of the state. The pipeline would transport liquefied carbon dioxide captured by biofuel production plants to an underground site in central Illinois for sequestration, a process the company says will help fight climate change.
The Nebraska portion of Navigator’s Heartland Greenway pipeline is part of a 1,300-mile system the company is seeking to build in the first of two phases. The proposed pipeline would be primarily in Iowa, but would also extend into eastern South Dakota and southwestern Minnesota.
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Moving the company’s headquarters to Omaha made sense for a number of reasons, said Elizabeth Burns-Thompson, vice president of government and public affairs for Navigator. These include the presence of a company in the project footprint, as well as the fact that CEO Matt Vining and his family live in the Omaha area.
“Omaha just made a lot of sense,” Burns-Thompson said.
Navigator expects the pipeline to create nearly 1,700 construction jobs in Nebraska, with 50 to 80 permanent jobs across all states in the company’s overall footprint, though it anticipates “additional emphasis on Nebraska” now that the company has decided to locate its headquarters in Omaha.
Not everyone is welcoming Navigator to Nebraska.
Jane Kleeb, director of the progressive environmental organization Bold Nebraska and president of the Nebraska Democratic Party, sees Navigator’s move from its headquarters as another tactic to build its pipeline.
Navigator’s pipeline, like similar pipelines offered by other companies, including Summit Carbon Solutions, has run into opposition landowners and environmental activists.
Kleeb said Bold Nebraska works with about 300 Nebraska landowners. She also said she works with groups that connect with landowners in Iowa and South Dakota.
Shelli Meyer, who grew up and still maintains her parents’ property in Dixon County, northeast Nebraska, said she first became aware of Navigator’s interest in building his pipeline when his 82-year-old father, Ferris Meyer, handed him a package he received shortly before last Christmas.
The package included a letter written by a Navigator executive stating that the company “may seek to exercise the right of eminent domain” if the company fails to reach voluntary agreements with all landowners along the project route.
For Meyer, the eminent domain designation undermined the company’s stated goal of benefiting the general public.
“It’s for private gain that companies can put in their pockets,” she said.
Meyer, who has power of attorney for his parents, said they refused to accept overtures from the company. She now works with the Nebraska Easement Action Team, a nonprofit organization that, according to its websiteaims to educate and legally represent landowners who have been approached by pipeline companies.
Burns-Thompson said Navigator would claim eminent domain as a last resort.
“Private property rights should not be infringed, and we take that very seriously,” she said, adding that the company wanted to negotiate with landowners to come up with “competitive and fair” proposals.
At this point, however, Burns-Thompson said it was too early for the company to consider eminent domain. She said company representatives have only been on the ground for a few weeks meeting with landowners to negotiate easements.
Navigator and other companies offering carbon dioxide pipelines have touted the potential environmental benefits of capturing carbon dioxide and storing it underground.
On its website, Navigator said that at full capacity, the Heartland Greenway Pipeline will help eliminate the equivalent of annual emissions generated by about 3.2 million cars. Sequestering this level of carbon dioxide, Navigator said, “is an important step in combating a changing environment.”
But Kleeb argued that any environmental gain would be outweighed by the costs, calling carbon sequestration “the bottom-of-the-barrel option”.
She and Meyer said the construction and operation of such pipelines pose new environmental risks. Both pointed to a 2020 incident near Satartia, Mississippi, where, as reported by HuffPost media (formerly The Huffington Post), a ruptured carbon dioxide pipeline caused a noxious green cloud to appear, causing nearly 50 people to be hospitalized and about 300 to be evacuated.
“Quite frankly, I don’t think any climate solution should endanger our farmers and herders. And that’s exactly what it (would) do,” Kleeb said.
In response to the environmental concerns raised, Navigator released a brief document dated July 13 outlining planned operational safety measures. These include redundant communication and power supply to all connection points, critical valves and metering facilities. The measurements also highlight planned quality control standards relating to the structural integrity of the pipeline and “ensure that no contaminants have an adverse impact on the system, the environment or the public.”
Burns-Thompson said the company is encouraging deeper dialogue with people to help mitigate risk, but cautioned that “we cannot eliminate risk”.
Burns-Thompson said Navigator is looking to make the first phase of the pipeline operational in 2025.