Carbon capture drives future for Iowa farmers

Farming is woven into the fabric of every community here in Iowa. Farmers are our neighbors, belong to our churches, volunteer in our communities, and coach our kids. Their farms not only support their family, but also feed and fuel our nation’s economy. Our farmers make Iowa a leading producer of corn and value-added products, like ethanol – creating jobs and tax revenue that fund our schools and community services. Now Iowa can turn that economic ripple effect into a vast wave of benefits for farmers, businesses, and local communities by supporting carbon capture.

As a farmer, keeping the family farm tradition alive and well for the next generation is deeply personal to me. That is why I helped start the Smart Carbon Network – a grassroots coalition that brings together agriculture, energy, academia, and community leaders who believe carbon capture is an essential tool to help Iowa farmers grow our economy and preserve the promise of agriculture for future generations.

Some may have yet to hear much about carbon capture or how carbon management can help farmers and our rural communities thrive. While the technology has been used safely for decades – the expansion of CO2 projects is new to many of us. That is why the Smart Carbon Network is working to separate fact from fiction and tell the true story of how carbon capture can benefit the economy, the ag community, and the environment.

Carbon capture makes it possible to capture the carbon dioxide from ethanol production. That does several things. First, carbon capture keeps ethanol competitive and helps our state fill the growing demand for lower-carbon fuels. It puts Iowa in the driver’s seat as the world seeks to cut transportation emissions.

Second, it increases demand for Iowa corn and ethanol, enhancing their value, while boosting farm incomes. Long-term demand for lower-carbon biofuels ensures dependable local markets for farmers to sell grain and buy feed.

Third, an efficient transportation system allows increased opportunity for captured CO2 for commercial use, including carbonated beverages, food processing, and water treatment, as well as connection to safe and permanent underground storage.

Most importantly, CCUS will create thousands of jobs and drive billions of dollars of investment across the state, growing local rural economies and helping small businesses flourish.

Some might say these opportunities sound great, but what about the impact on my land and the safety of my family and community? Good question. I’m a farmer and a family man. I care about my land and my neighbors. I was pleased to learn that CCUS is well-tested, well-regulated, and has an impressive safety record. The lines are buried underground so they won’t upset the beauty of the natural landscape or the ability to farm over them.

There’s a lot at stake for our communities. That’s why we’re bringing together experts with unique perspectives to help sort out the facts. Once those facts are all on the table, I hope you’ll agree we have less to be concerned and far more to be excited for with CCUS.

Joe Heinrich is executive director of the Smart Carbon Network.


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