Human Impact Partners, with the New Mexico Department of Health and the Partnership for a Healthy Torrance County, conducted an HIA of a proposed carbon dioxide pipeline in Torrance County, New Mexico. Kinder Morgan, the largest energy infrastructure company in North America, proposed 213 miles of 16-inch pipeline to carry CO2 from Apache County, Arizona, to the Permian Basin in eastern New Mexico and western Texas. The new pipeline would connect to the existing Cortez Pipeline. Construction would require acquisition of a 100-foot right of way, which would cross private, state, and tribal lands throughout New Mexico. The HIA examined potential health impacts related to culture and connection to the land, land use, economic vitality, safety, and water quality and availability.
The HIA found that the project offered few benefits to the health, well-being, and economy of Torrance County. Although additional tax revenue could provide some individual or municipal economic gains, county residents expressed concern that they would be short-lived and outweighed by potential costs. Similarly, the project would generate some temporary and permanent employment, but the plans do not guarantee that county residents would be hired, and the number of jobs is uncertain. The project also could trigger historical trauma associated with past experiences, including loss of land and culture and previous mistreatment by government and private entities. Further, pipeline construction and operation activities require a significant amount of water, and groundwater supplies in Torrance County are already shrinking. Once the pipeline is operational, an accidental release could affect groundwater quality.
The HIA recommended that the Torrance County Commission require that Kinder Morgan establish a mitigation fund to address potential adverse mental and physical health impacts from the proposed pipeline. It also recommended a comprehensive, publicly available study of the economic impacts of the proposed pipeline, including an analysis of loss of use costs, tax revenue, and award compensation as well as a cost-benefit analysis. The HIA also recommended that relevant federal agencies create guidance for pipeline development in New Mexico that considers impacts to land use, cultural connection to the land, economic vitality, safety, and water quality and availability, and provides examples of best practices to address health, equity, and other impacts in these areas.
This project was funded by The W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Amid falling oil prices in January 2015, Kinder Morgan withdrew its application for the proposed Lobos CO2 Pipeline from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The company reserves the right to revive the project if market conditions change.
This Health Impact Assessment Report first appeared in The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health. The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health was originally developed by the Health Impact Project, formerly a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The creation of this resource was supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Pew Charitable Trusts, or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.