Critics allege CO2 pipelines ‘farm the government’ for climate money while helping oil industry

Plans to capture carbon dioxide emitted by ethanol plants, ship it via pipelines and store it underground are viewed by some as a way to fight climate change.

The process is one way to keep carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, where it acts as a heat-trapping greenhouse gas.

But critics say the process known as carbon capture and sequestration could also aid oil production.


In a process called enhanced oil recovery, CO2 can be injected into aging oil wells to make it less thick, help it flow better, and cause the oil to expand toward wells.

Silvia Secchi, an environmental impacts researcher and professor at the University of Iowa, said oil extraction runs contrary to the goals of carbon sequestration, and to the goals of federal tax credits for sequestration projects. Those credits — up to $85 per metric ton of annual sequestered carbon — are supposed to motivate companies to help mitigate climate change.

“These people farm the government,” Secchi said. “They don’t care about climate change.”