Carbon is a buzz word, especially related to the fuel supply. A top priority for Iowa Corn is building markets and demand for corn. It’s no secret that ethanol is a top market for corn grind, and we are working to increase ethanol’s share of the fuel tank.
Ethanol is the most immediate and affordable low carbon fuel solution in the market today. Ethanol plants and individual farmers have invested in carbon pipeline projects to gain access to additional markets by reducing ethanol’s carbon intensity score and making it an even lower carbon fuel. Currently there are three carbon pipeline projects proposed to go through Iowa. We encourage farmers to have conversations with the companies as well as seek legal counsel.
Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) requested legal counsel to develop this Guide to make it available to ICGA members and other agricultural landowners for their reference in relation to carbon pipelines. Request a copy of the Guide here.
“Low carbon fuel” is any transportation fuel from non-petroleum origin that reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil-based gasoline or diesel. Corn ethanol is an example of a low carbon fuel, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 46% on average compared to gasoline. Policies such as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) have created incentives to encourage the production and use of low carbon fuel, and additional low carbon fuel policies are being contemplated at both the federal and state levels. Currently, a top legislative priority for ICGA is the Next Generation Fuels Act, that paves a way to incorporate higher ethanol blends into America's fuel supply, increasing corn demand.
Carbon intensity (CI) is a measure or “score” of the rate of greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy consumed in an activity or production process. In the context of climate discussions and low carbon fuel policies, fuels with lower CI scores are favored by receiving greater incentives. Therefore, under low carbon fuel policies, fuels such as corn ethanol stand to benefit by lowering their CI scores. Options to lower the CI score of corn ethanol include adopting certain farming practices, utilizing wind and solar power, maximizing efficiency of ethanol plant operations and adopting technology such as Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS).
Carbon dioxide emissions from processing facilities like ethanol plants are captured before the emissions can be released into the atmosphere. Then the carbon dioxide is transported via pipeline to geological formations and injected thousands of feet underground where it is sequestered under layers of impermeable rock.
The Carbon Sequestration Tax Credit, also known as 45Q based on its section in the tax code, incentivizes carbon capture and sequestration practices. In 2022, the federal government increased the existing 45Q tax credit to $85/metric ton (which is approximately $0.17/gallon of ethanol) for CO2 that is permanently sequestered underground and $60/metric ton for CO2 that is used for enhanced oil recovery or other industrial uses. Companies must begin construction of the sequestration project by January 2033, which is a seven-year extension of the tax credit. To be eligible to receive the tax credit, carbon emissions must be measured at capture as well as injection and meet specific sequestration storage requirements.
The Clean Fuel Production Credit is also known as 45Z. In 2022, the federal government created the 45Z tax credit which offers ethanol plants an incentive to reduce their carbon intensity score below 50 kg CO2 equivalent. For every one carbon intensity point reduction below 50 kg CO2 equivalent, ethanol plants are given $0.02 per gallon tax credit. For example, reducing a carbon intensity score from 50 to 26 kg CO2 equivalent would result in a $48 million tax credit for a 100-million-gallon ethanol plant (50-26) x $0.02 x 100 million). The 45Z tax credit is currently authorized for 3 years (2024 through 2027).
The Iowa Corn Growers Association along with the National Corn Growers Association support the Next Generation Fuels Act, a common-sense solution that Americans - and our country's corn farmers - need. This bipartisan legislation paves a way to incorporating higher ethanol blends into America's fuel supply, increasing ethanol demand and ultimately corn grind. Increased ethanol demand will bolster farm incomes, helping family-owned farms keep pace with technological developments and remain globally competitive.
The legislation takes a cooperative approach to reducing carbon emissions, while protecting the livelihood of farmers and ensuring consumers continue to have affordable fuel and vehicle choices. This legislation requires octane sources used in the new fuels to result in at least 40% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than unblended gasoline, reducing emissions compared to what is currently available. Today's ethanol is nearly 50% lower in carbon intensity than gasoline and continues to improve, thanks to ongoing environmental footprint reductions on corn farms and at ethanol production plants.
The Next Generation Fuels Act is a common-sense solution to successfully reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality, and ensuring drivers have more affordable low carbon choices.
As defined by the Iowa Utilities Board: Generally, eminent domain is the government’s power to take private property for public benefit. It comes from the US Constitution, federal laws, state constitutions, and state laws. The IUB’s authority to grant the power of eminent domain comes from Iowa Code chapters 476A, 478, 479, and 479B. Chapter 476A is for electric power generating plants, chapter 478 for electric transmission lines, chapter 479 for intrastate natural gas pipelines, and chapter 479B for hazardous liquids pipelines. Telephone and telegraph companies are granted the power of eminent domain by statute, Iowa Code section 477.4.
Growth Energy – Achieving Net Zero Ethanol
Global CCS Institute – CO2 Transport Fact Sheet
EPA - Overview of CCS technology
CARB - Overview of CCS technology
CARB - FAQ sheet on CCS Project Eligibility
ICGA works to support state and federal policy on renewable fuels, decrease regulatory burdens on the livestock industry and much more. The single most important action we take for our members is to support sound policy development and pro-farmer legislation.
Here are a few related ICGA policies:
This is not legal advice. Talk to your attorney concerning legal questions about your farm and before signing any contracts.
ICGA members are reaching out with questions related to the carbon capture pipeline projects in Iowa, we encourage you to reach out directly to the companies to have a conversation.