Exclusive: Summit Carbon LLCs seek well permits in Iowa

Nancy Dugan lives in Altoona, Iowa and has worked as an online editor for the past 12 years. 

When examining the intricate web of businesses that have sprung up around Summit Carbon Solutions, one cannot help but wonder how many private, largely unregulated LLCs are associated with the proposed CO2 pipeline.

Lawler SCS Capture, LLC is among the more recently unearthed businesses formed by Summit. On May 29, 2023, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources issued a water use permit to Lawler SCS, which shares an address with Summit Carbon Solutions in Ames. The permit expires on May 28, 2033. Lawler SCS submitted its application to the department on April 17.

The permit authorizes Lawler SCS to:

Withdraw water from one new Devonian Limestone well, about 380 feet deep, located on land generally described as the NW ¼ of the SE ¼ of Section 01, T95N, R12W, Chickasaw County, Iowa, in the maximum quantity of 55.9 million gallons per year at a maximum rate of 100 gallons per minute throughout each year for carbon capture-related purposes on said land.

According to Michael K. Anderson, a senior environmental engineer with the Iowa DNR’s Water Quality Bureau, the New Hampton Tribune published a public notice of recommendation to issue a permit to Lawler SCS in early May. Iowa Administrative Code 567—50.7(3) requires such public notices. Anderson indicated to Bleeding Heartland that public comments were due by May 24, and the DNR received none.

The well is to be located on land owned by Homeland Energy Solutions in Lawler, Iowa. Homeland is an ethanol plant and a Summit Carbon partner, having signed on to the proposed pipeline. It is not known how the well will be used, other than for “carbon capture-related purposes” identified in the permit the DNR issued.

South Dakota’s Redfield SCS well

On August 20, Joshua Haiar reported for the South Dakota Searchlight on the efforts of another Summit Carbon business, Redfield SCS Capture, LLC, to secure a water-rights permit from the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The proposed well “could take up to 21 million gallons of water per year from the Dakota Aquifer, which is an amount equivalent to about 32 Olympic-sized pools.” The land on which this well will sit is either adjacent to or on property owned by Redfield Energy, LLC, an ethanol plant in Redfield, South Dakota that is also a Summit Carbon pipeline partner.

The Searchlight article explained, “Because some nearby residents sent opposition comments to the state during a public comment period, the proposed permit will be the subject of a contested case hearing this fall.” Residents who spoke with Searchlight expressed concerns about reductions in water pressure stemming from the proposed Redfield well.

Two residents said state employees they spoke with (but declined to identify) indicated the well would likely result in “a drastic decline in pressure,” but that bureaucracy would prevent them from stopping Summit. One resident, Debra Curtis, received a call from Governor Krisi Noem’s communications director Ian Fury, assuring her that her rights would take priority over Summit. Fury called after Curtis tried without success to reach her previous contact with the state.

Goldfield SCS Capture, LLC

Another Summit Carbon business, Goldfield SCS Capture, LLC, recently submitted a water use permit application for a well to be located on or near land owned by Corn, LP in Goldfield, Iowa (Wright County). This application seeks to withdraw water from the proposed Goldfield well at an annual rate of 27.60 million gallons per year, with a maximum requested pumping rate of 55 gallons per minute. The aquifer type is identified in the permit application as “Mississippian.” The Goldfield application to the Iowa DNR also provided a map and additional documentation.

To date, Lawler SCS and Goldfield SCS do not appear to be registered with the Iowa Secretary of State. Similarly, Redfield SCS does not appear to be registered with the South Dakota Secretary of State. However, three LLCs with identical names were registered with the Delaware Department of State on February 4, 2022. Another Summit business, Saint Ansgar SCS Capture, LLC, was registered with the Delaware Department of State on June 12, 2023, and also submitted an application for certificate of authority with the Iowa Secretary of State on July 3, 2023.

The Iowa application identified SCS Carbon Removal, LLC as one of the member managers of Saint Ansgar SCS. Asked whether Summit Carbon Solutions or any of its affiliates or subsidiaries have sought a well permit from Mitchell County, where Saint Ansgar is located, Mitchell County Environmental Health Specialist and Zoning Administrator Macie Adams told Bleeding Heartland, “Summit Carbon Solutions has not submitted any well permit applications to Mitchell County, and neither has any affiliated LLCs, subsidiaries, or companies that I am aware of.”  

According to Anderson, Goldfield submitted an application to the Iowa DNR on August 26. The department tentatively plans to publish a public notice in the Eagle Grove Eagle on September 13, after which the public will have 20 days to respond.   

It’s not clear whether Summit Carbon Solutions has entered into an agreement with Homeland Energy Solutions or Corn, LP related to the wells, potentially addressing ownership and operational issues.

When asked if he knew whether Summit Carbon Solutions plans to submit applications for wells on or near each of the ethanol plants that have signed on to the proposed Summit Carbon pipeline in Iowa, Anderson responded, “I do not know what Summit’s plans are.”

Top image of water flushing out of an agriculture industrial tube well is by Magsi and available via Shutterstock.

About the Author(s)

Nancy Dugan

  • Keeping us forewarned

    Nancy Dugan, I don’t know who you are or why you are covering Summit like this or how you find this amazing research, but I thank you. Please continue to keep the public informed and forewarned about Summit/Rastetter’s plans and methods.

    • I second that

      And I could not have said it better.

      The water depletion, the risk to life of CO2 leaks, the stealing of land, and the harm to that land…There is nothing good that will come of this. Nothing.

      But I very much doubt anything or anyone will be able to stop it.

      This is a direct result of how ignorant people have voted. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

  • Thank you, Nancy Dugan

    This is impressive work, and is appreciated. And thank you, Laura Belin, for providing the means by which we can read it!

    I will admit that I am having trouble putting all the pipeline information together in a coherent way. I’m guessing I may not be the only one. I would appreciate a Carbon Pipelines Big Picture For Dummies essay in which the big picture is laid out in fairly simple terms, even if it needs to include speculation and hypotheses that cannot, at this point, be proven. And even if the essay would need to be anonymous.

    A friend says that from what she’s seen on Twitter, the big picture seems to be complex and involves a lot of international money, and that just skimming the latest news about the Iowa IUB doesn’t even begin to reveal everything. I can believe it.

  • what happens to the water Summit is done with it?

    What will eventually happen to this underground water after it does whatever its job will be at the surface? Will it stay at the surface? Be dumped into a stream? Be pumped back to the ethanol plant for another use? Be dumped back underground? Will it be clean? Correct temperature? Seems like a lot of water 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Besides a permit to pump, DNR should be asking what will happen to the water after that? Does it have a single momentary use and is then treated as a waste? It’s probably not a very good idea to be wasting massive amounts of aquifer water, especially not for a CO2 pipeline.

    • Those are very good questions, Laura Krouse.

      The numbers below are easier for me to wrap my mind around than the volume of Olympic swimming pools:

      Number of square feet 83.5 million gallons of water the two permits would cover, if we assume the water is 10 inches deep:


      Number of square feet a football field including the end zones covers:

      57,600 square feet

      1,339,479 / 57,600 = 23.25 football fields

      1 acre = 43,560 square feet

      1,339,479 / 43560 = 30.75 acres at 10 inches deep

      So in 10 years, that’s enough water to cover more than 300 acres at a 10 inch depth.

  • This ties in with the recent analysis by the NYTimes of disappearing aquifers in US