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McDonough County Board to intervene in pipeline case

Rich Egger
The county board voted on the issue during their monthly meeting at the courthouse.

The McDonough County Board agreed to get more involved in the fight against a proposed carbon dioxide pipeline.

The board voted 18-1 to intervene in the case before the Illinois Commerce Commission. Joe Erlandson voted against intervening. Larry Aurelio and Cindy Helling were absent.

McDonough County State’s Attorney Matt Kwacala cautioned board members that intervening could prove expensive, costing $100,000 or more for specialized attorneys, experts, and more.

Board member Mike Kirby said he is aware of that.

“I know lawyers are expensive and law firms are expensive. But so is the life of a human being who lives in McDonough County,” Kirby said.

“Yes, this may cost the county some money. But this is what we’re here to do -- to protect the health and safety of the citizens of McDonough County.”

Kirby hoped the board’s action encourages other counties to intervene. McDonough and Sangamon counties are the only ones in Illinois to agree to intervene so far.

Navigator Heartland Greenway’s plan is to capture carbon dioxide from ethanol and fertilizer plants in Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, and South Dakota. The carbon dioxide will be dehydrated and then compressed into a liquid that will be sent through carbon steel pipes to a sequestration site in Christian County in south central Illinois.

The company said it will use eminent domain, if necessary, to acquire the property for the project.

Navigator hopes to begin construction in 2024.

Pipeline opponents are fighting against the use of eminent domain by a private company.

They also are raising concerns about the safety of the pipeline. They said if the pressurized liquid is released, it will convert into a gas that is heavier than air, asphyxiating people, animals, and plants in its path.

They point to a CO2 pipeline explosion in February 2020, which spread a gas cloud over Sartartia, Mississippi, sickening people across the town.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.