EPA to hold hearings on whether Louisiana should control carbon capture wells
The Environmental Protection Agency kicked off a three-day public hearing in Baton Rouge on Wednesday as they consider granting the state control over permitting wells used to inject carbon underground.
The hearing comes after the federal agency accepted the state Department of Natural Resources’ application in late April to become the primary regulator over Class VI wells, which bury carbon and other planet-warming gases.
The application was stalled for more than two years as the state office and the EPA’s regional office revised it to include protections for low-income and minority communities.
Carbon capture and sequestration involves the sucking of carbon dioxide straight from the atmosphere or before it leaves a smokestack, then cooling the carbon for transport in pipelines before pumping it more than a mile beneath the ground under geologic formations.
Gov. John Bel Edwards has championed carbon capture and sequestration as a key way to lower greenhouse gas emissions from Louisiana’s hefty industrial sector. As of 2021, the energy-intensive industrial sector produced two-thirds of the state’s contribution to climate change.
The latest international climate reports have also said that direct air capture – vacuuming carbon straight from the atmosphere – will be needed to steeply cut carbon to prevent the most catastrophic effects of global warming.
Last year, the EPA encouraged states to apply for regulatory power in order to speed up projects.
But the potential to develop carbon capture plants and pipelines has drawn controversy in some parts of the state. In southeast Louisiana, hundreds of residents have protested a proposed “blue hydrogen” plant that would convert natural gas into clean-burning hydrogen as a fuel, capture the leftover carbon, then store it under Lake Maurepas.
The protest led to a slew of bills designed to slow down carbon capture and storage development in the region from state lawmakers during the legislative session. All but one failed.
The public hearing will take place on:
- Wednesday, June 21 from 1 to 5 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m.
- Thursday, June 22 from 9 a.m. to noon, 1 to 5 p.m., and 6 to 8 p.m.
- Friday, June 23 from 9 a.m. to noon, 1 to 5 p.m., and 6 to 8 p.m.
The hearings will take place at the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, LaBelle Hearing Room, 1st Floor, LaSalle Building, 617 North 3rd Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70802.
The hearings can be livestreamed each day at these links: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.
The EPA has stated that registration to speak at the hearings has closed. Though, when there are lulls, those at the hearings who aren't registered have been allowed to speak. There are also three ways to submit online comments before the July 3 deadline:
- Federal eRulemaking Portal for the application docket. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
- Mail: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 6, Lisa Pham, Groundwater/UIC Section, Mail code: WDDG, 1201 Elm Street, Suite 500, Dallas, TX 75270-2102.
- Email: email@example.com Email subject line: Louisiana Class VI Primacy Application - Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2023-0073