Growth Energy Welcomes SCALE Act to Strengthen Network of CO2 Pipelines

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor thanked Reps. Marc Veasey (D-Tex.), David McKinley (R-W.Va.), Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) and Pete Stauber (R-Minn.) for introducing the Storing CO2 and Lowering Emissions Act (SCALE Act), legislation designed to establish a carbon emissions infrastructure program and strengthen pipeline networks to transport carbon dioxide (CO2) from ethanol plants to where it is needed, including for beverage, food, and dry ice use.

“As we have seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, CO2 captured from ethanol plants has critically important commercial, agriculture, and municipal water uses,” said Skor. “Whether it’s CO2 used to produce dry ice for vaccine storage or used to treat municipal water, CO2 captured from ethanol plants is a critical component to many key supply chains and we cannot afford another shortage threat. We support the SCALE Act and encourage greater CO2 reduction across the board.”

Currently, about 50 of the 210 ethanol plants capture a portion of CO2 created during the fermentation process. CO2 from ethanol plants can be pumped into underground storage sites or used for commercial beverage, food, and some agriculture uses.  But these sources of demand must be local for CO2 capture to remain economically feasible. An average-sized ethanol plant captures 99,000 to 153,000 tons of CO2 a year, and there is strong potential to expand on these carbon emission savings.

Ethanol plants are also providing significant amounts of CO2 for dry ice production, a necessary product which keeps COVID-19 vaccinations at freezing temperatures needed for storage. As the vaccine supply begins to ramp up for public distribution, an adequate CO2 supply will be needed to transport and store tens of millions of life-saving vaccinations.

Pipelines are the dominant form of CO2 transport. The U.S. has 5,000 miles of existing CO2 pipelines (compared to 300,000 miles of natural gas pipelines) and overall CO2 infrastructure is limited due to cost. The bill aims to build out CO2 transport and storage infrastructure so industrial sources, like ethanol plants, can connect to a larger network of pipelines to get CO2 where it is needed.

The Storing CO2 and Lowering Emissions Act (SCALE Act) has four main components:

  • Establishes a CO2 infrastructure program which allows low-interest federal loans to finance CO2 transport infrastructure projects.
  • Creates CO2 large-scale saline geologic storage hubs to safely store large amounts of CO2.
  • Provides EPA with increased funding to permit Class VI CO2 wells.

Funds new U.S. Department of Energy infrastructure-related CO2 utilization programs which researches emerging technologies that convert CO2 into materials and chemicals.