EPA gives Louisiana authority to approve projects storing carbon dioxide underground

EPA gives Louisiana authority to approve projects storing carbon dioxide underground

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has granted Louisiana the right to approve projects that store carbon dioxide underground.

These projects take carbon dioxide emitted by energy production or industrial processes and inject it into rock formations underground to prevent it from going into the atmosphere and worsening climate change. 

The EPA said last week that the state’s program meets requirements for approval.

In a written statement Thursday, Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said that the state’s geology and existing pipeline infrastructure set it up to be a major hub for carbon capture and sequestration projects. 

“While CO2 sequestration is not the only strategy available for carbon management, it is the most mature and market-ready tool available in the near term,”  he said. 

The EPA’s move was met with criticism from some on the left, who raised concerns with both the State of Louisiana and the use of carbon storage more broadly.

Beverly Wright, executive director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, called the decision “simply wrong” and said it “leaves Louisiana’s most vulnerable exposed to an untested pollution control technology,” in a written statement. 

She also said that the state has “a track record of ignoring environmental justice concerns and failing to comply with environmental regulations for decades.”

Critics of Louisiana’s environmental policy point to an industrial corridor that includes several petrochemical facilities and has become known as “Cancer Alley” due to emissions of toxic chemicals.

On the other hand, the energy industry cheered the decision, saying that it could speed approvals for carbon storage projects. 

“By enabling Louisiana to take advantage of its unique geology and expertise, this will help accelerate lower-carbon solutions through streamlined permitting and oversight,” said Gifford Briggs, Gulf Coast Region director for the American Petroleum Institute, an oil lobby group, in a statement.

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