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Bill sponsor says proposal could make Minnesota ‘carbon negative’

Carbon capture and sequestration could help the state attain a zero or negative carbon footprint. But critics say the new technology would actually increase carbon emissions and pose other safety risks.

“If you want to be leaders, if Minnesota wants to be different, if Minnesota wants to be on the global stage as a state that’s doing things right, we’ll find the way to get it done right,” said Rep. Spencer Igo (R-Wabana Township). “We could put Minnesota on the map, not for being carbon neutral by 2040, but carbon negative.”

Igo sponsors HF342 that would develop and deploy carbon capture and sequestration technologies as state policy. The bill was laid over by the House Sustainable Infrastructure Policy Committee Wednesday.

“Right now, we’re not utilizing carbon capture and sequestration, and we need to if we want to be able to reach these goals and do it in a way where we can keep power affordable and we can keep power reliable for every single Minnesotan,” he said.

Because of the significant amounts of energy and water needed to facilitate the carbon capture and sequestration process, critics say it increases the carbon footprint significantly. The process of capturing carbon dioxide at an ethanol plant is highly energy and water intensive, they say, meaning it actually takes more energy to convert the carbon dioxide gas to a liquid so that it can be transported in a proposed pipeline.

“The bill implies that carbon capture technology will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and this simply is not true,” said Peg Furshong, a Renville County landowner. “It does just the opposite. It actually incentivizes farmers to continue growing corn and the production of ethanol.”

Sarah Mooradian, government relations and policy director for CURE, said enhanced oil recovery is another use for carbon capture technology which would only sustain fossil fuel production by oil companies.

“Pushing more oil out of the ground is in no way compatible with our climate goals," she said. “Even if Minnesota did not intend for CO2 captured here to be used for [enhanced oil recovery], once it leaves the state, there is little we can do to insure that does not happen.”

Igo said carbon capture and sequestration technologies can be used in many industries including agriculture, forestry, taconite and the steel industry, and can add new jobs to the workforce.

“These projects create thousands of work hours for men and women in the construction trades, which provides families sustaining jobs, health care and pensions for their families,” said John Pollard, legislative director of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49.

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