SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The world’s largest biofuels company has joined a proposed carbon dioxide pipeline project.

POET, based in Sioux Falls, will use Navigator’s Heartland Greenway system for captured CO2. The 1,300-mile pipeline travels through several states including South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota.

Eighteen of POET’s 33 plants will provide five million metric tons of C02 to the system.

POET president and chief operating officer Jeff Lautt said the 18 plants represent about 20,000 farmers who provide corn to the ethanol plants.

Navigator is one of two companies that will have some of a proposed CO2 pipeline traveling through South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota.

Today, June 8, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission granted Summit Carbon Solution’s request for an extension on a PUC decision on its permit. The Summit pipeline is about 2,500 miles with 469 miles in South Dakota.

“POET has been careful in our assessment of the right project for over a year,” Lautt said. “We felt Navigator had the experience…”

Navigator also has a sophisticated plan in the way it created its proposed system, Lautt said.

Elizabeth Burns-Thompson, vice president of government and public affairs for Navigator, said Poet recognizes the value of CO2 as a co-product in the ethanol industry. The company has already been capturing CO2.

CO2 is extracted from corn and used in starch and similar products while another CO2 is captured and used in livestock feed, Lautt said.

The 18 plants involved with the Navigator project do not capture CO2 now which is why those plants would supply CO2 to the project, Lautt said.

That CO2 is released into the atmosphere.

The CO2 pipeline benefit to ethanol plants such as POET is to lower the plant’s carbon output so it can sell ethanol in lower carbon states such as California.

Lautt said the Navigator CO2 project will increase the value of ethanol and corn.

While the Navigator pipeline is now designed to capture CO2 and bury it in Illinois, Lautt said there is potential for more to happen.

“Today, the market for CO2 is only so large,” Lautt said. “Down the road (there is potential) for CO2 to be used in hydrogen and green methane.”

Navigator’s plan includes the potential to transport CO2 to other sites to allow CO2 to be used for those options, Lautt said.

“I think that’s highly probable,” Lautt said. This is the main reason why POET chose Navigator, he said.

Opponents of the Navigator proposal and other CO2 proposals such as Summit Carbon Solutions’ project say that CO2 is a safety and health hazard and that pipelines are at risk of leaking or rupturing. Others have said they are concerned about the use of eminent domain to secure easements for the pipeline or that large companies will reap big financial benefits at the expense of landowners.

Burns-Thompson said Navigators has heard those concerns. CO2 capture and pipelines have been used for many years but it’s new to the Midwest, she said. Navigator is working with a laboratory that has been testing and working with CO2 projects for many years, she said. The company already has CO2 pipelines in other states.

The federal standards for pipelines are considered minimal thresholds by Navigator, Burns-Thompson said. The company will exceed those standards for this project.

“There are thousands of miles of CO2 pipelines that transport CO2 on a daily basis,” Lautt said. “This is not a new concept but it might be newer to the Midwest.”

POET is confident that Navigator will have the “most highly sophisticated technology and safeguards in place,” Lautt said.