Here's what to expect from Navigator and POET's new partnership in the coming months

Alexandra Hardle
Aberdeen News
The latest version of Navigator Co.'s proposed Heartland Greenway carbon capture pipeline.

Landowners might be wondering what to expect after the recent announcement that POET and Navigator CO2 Ventures have signed a long-term contract. 

The companies announced a plan to sequester 5 million tons of carbon per year. Navigator's project, dubbed the Heartland Greenway, would collect carbon dioxide from ethanol and fertilizer plants in South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. It would then be pumped underground to the Mount Simon Sandstone formation in central Illinois.

Eighteen of POET's 33 plants will be participating, said POET President and Chief Operating Officer Jeff Lautt.

More:South Dakota-based Poet signs on with Navigator carbon dioxide pipeline project

Previously, only Valero's Aurora ethanol plant was signed onto the project in South Dakota, meaning there were plans for the line in Moody, Minnehaha and Brookings counties. But POET's participation has pushed the number of South Dakota plants to six.

POET has ethanol plants in Big Stone City, Chancellor, Groton, Hudson and Mitchell in South Dakota.

The project will need to be approved by the state before it is built.

Routes in South Dakota not yet set

Navigator has not yet released county maps for the project, and it's unclear exactly how many counties will be affected. Elizabeth Burns-Thompson, vice president of government and public affairs for Navigator, said the route has not yet been determined. Routing due diligence has not yet been done, she said.

Reducing carbon dioxide emissions isn't a new goal for POET, said Lautt. At several of the company's plants, carbon is captured as opposed to being released back into the atmosphere. That CO2 is then sold to companies that use it for food products or carbonated beverages, he said.

"We have been kind of on a long journey of continuing to find ways to improve our carbon intensity and become even greener than we already are today," said Lautt.

Navigator the right partner for POET, Lautt says

He said the pipeline project has been in discussion for about 12 to 18 months. One of POET's goals is do reduce carbon emissions, and the company came to the conclusion that Navigator is the right partner, he said.

"They have a lot of experience in pipelines and CO2 pipelines. And they are using state-of-the-art technology, which is consistent with how POET operates its business," said Lautt. 

He said the agreement with Navigator is long-term, but declined to say how many years it's for.

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Asked about the 45Q tax credit, Lautt again declined to comment on specifics, but said the it is a key incentive given by the federal government to help businesses that want to help the environment. 

Companies can currently tap a  $31.77 tax credit per metric ton of carbon dioxide sequestered. That number will increase to $50 in 2026 and will be adjusted for inflation in the following years.

If POET sequestered 5 million tons of carbon dioxide in a year at $31.77 per ton, that would amount to a $158.85 million tax credit. At $50, the total would be $250 million a year.

Lautt asks that landowners not make assumptions about pipeline

Lautt said his advice to landowners who have reservations about the project is to get the right information as opposed to making assumptions. Navigator has been open and communicative, said Lautt. He added that 40,000 farmers deliver grain to POET each year and that the company has a great relationship and partnership with those producers.

In the coming months, Burns-Thompson said people can expect to be notified if they might be along the pipeline route. Navigator hosted public meetings in Brookings, Minnehaha and Moody counties in December and January and will begin to plan new meetings. They could be at big summer events such as county fairs, she said.