There has been more pushback against new carbon capture pipeline development, signaling obstacles ahead for the industry. More than 150 climate and advocacy groups, led by NGO Food & Water Watch, sent a letter on May 30th to U.S. President Joe Biden to block the authorization of all new carbon dioxide pipelines.
They urge that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) should first finalize robust new safety regulations that protect communities and the environment before any more permits are issued to developers.
The organizations are listing a set of arguments supporting the notion that carbon capture pipelines pose serious safety risks due largely to under-regulation and that respective authorities are not properly equipped or prepared to handle potential ruptures of the pipeline.
Even though there are several federal regulations that haven’t been updated and more urgent ones that haven’t been issued, the country is currently facing a massive build-out of CO2 pipelines, according to the letter.
“There are many issues that are unique to CO2 pipelines that PHMSA must address prior to the construction of any new pipelines, but chief among our concerns are: adequate safety zones, contaminants, CO2 definition, safety coordination and resources, and odorants,” says the letter sent by the climate and advocacy groups.
The letter also gives as an example an accident that happened in 2021 when a CO2 pipeline in Mississippi ruptured, sending dozens of people to a hospital. Additionally, the rupture posed significant challenges for the first responders who were reportedly ill-equipped to react to such an emergency.
Carbon capture developments are necessary to eliminate part of the emissions from large polluters that have been released straight into the atmosphere for decades now. Regulators need to make sure the needed CO2 pipeline developments do not pose a threat to anyone before nationwide commercial-scale projects are ramped up.