Over the past decade, the U.S. Department of Energy has invested billions in carbon capture and storage projects- a technology that promised to store millions of tons of climate-harming carbon into the ground to prevent it from release into the air. 

Of the dozens of projects it has funded among coal and ethanol plants, the global agribusiness Archer Daniels Midland received millions in tax dollars to make a successful go of it. And it worked. It is one of the few successful projects to date. 

Still, the company is not storing as much as it promised. 

Our latest story, funded by The Lumpkin Foundation, critically examines this issue and its viability. 

Join us in December for a virtual community conversation. More details to come. 

Despite hundreds of millions in tax dollars, ADM’s carbon capture program still hasn’t met promised goals


This project was funded by The Lumpkin Foundation. Join us in December for a panel discussion on carbon capture in the Midwest. Click here to sign up.

Archer Daniels Midland, one of the world’s largest agribusiness companies, has received $281 million in federal tax dollars since 2009 for carbon capture and storage projects to combat climate change.

ADM will receive tax credits of $20 per ton of carbon stored underground, meaning if it were used as planned, $20 million per year for five years. 

Yet the company’s largest project is storing substantially less carbon dioxide from its ethanol plant in Decatur, Illinois, than originally promised, according to a Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting review of federal and company documents. 

Since starting operations at its largest project, the Illinois Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage Project, in 2017, the company has yet to reach its stated milestone of one million tons. Annual emissions stored are about half of those projected — around 519,000 tons, according to the EPA. 


Soybean and cotton growers sue EPA over new dicamba restrictions


New EPA restrictions on when and how to apply the weed killer dicamba are too burdensome for farmers, according to a lawsuit brought by trade groups representing soybean and cotton growers.

The restrictions include a cut-off date after which dicamba could not be sprayed and increased buffer zones, or areas where the weed killer can’t be applied, to protect plant and animal life. But the American Soybean Association and the Plains Cotton Growers, who filed the lawsuit in Washington D.C. federal court on Nov. 4, said the new restrictions exceed the EPA’s authority. 

“The Dicamba Decision imposes Application Restrictions that will limit Growers’ ability to respond to weather, pestilence, and other acts of God that significantly reduce yields and increase operational costs,” the complaint said.


A couple of federal court cases working their way through California's appellate system spell big trouble for Big Meat. 

Most recently the North American Meat Institute was slam-dunked sideways by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on its effort to stop California Prop 12 from going into effect.

Isn't that California well...being California with a history of marching to the beat of their own drummer?  Not this time, Ringo. 

Proposition 12 creates new regulations on animal housing. The measure demands producers provide more space for veal calves, breeding pigs and egg-laying hens. “So what?” you might ask.  Isn't that California well...being California with a history of marching to the beat of their own drummer?  Not this time, Ringo. Prop 12 also applies to out of state producers wanting to do business in California.  That's everyone. Far out.


ICYMI: ‘They think workers are like dogs.’ How pork plant execs sacrificed safety for profits. 

From City Hall to the White House, our investigation found, officials let Triumph Foods stay open as hundreds of workers got coronavirus. Four died. 

By Rachel Axon, Kyle Bagenstose and Kevin Crowe, USA TODAY; Sky Chadde, Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting 

Leer en espanol

This story is part of a collaborative reporting initiative between USA TODAY and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting and is supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

This story is embargoed for republication until Nov. 22, 2020.

Bernardo Serpa cut pork legs eight hours a day, six days a week.

He made the same cut roughly 12,000 times per shift, wielding a sharp knife as a production line worker at the second-largest pork processing plant in the country.

Then the coronavirus pandemic hit. In one week, dozens of his colleagues at the Triumph Foods plant in St. Joseph, Missouri, got sick. It prompted the company to test all of its 2,800 employees. In late April, large white tents appeared outside.

When it was Serpa’s turn, he got his nose swabbed. Then he went back inside where he stood elbow to elbow, shoulder to shoulder, with dozens of other potentially infected employees to await the results. 

His test came back negative, but his relief was short-lived. One week later, the Cuban immigrant was among hundreds of his co-workers to contract the coronavirus in what would become one of the nation’s largest meatpacking plant outbreaks.

Serpa would spend nearly four months in the hospital, much of it in a coma. 

On Oct. 16, he died.

USA TODAY and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting spent five months piecing together the pivotal moments in the Triumph Foods outbreak, interviewing more than a dozen current and former workers and examining thousands of pages of government records.

Copyright © 2020 Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, All rights reserved.

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