Lawsuit Seeks To Shift Carbon Storage Well Approval In Louisiana Back To EPA

Lawsuit Seeks To Shift Carbon Storage Well Approval In Louisiana Back To EPA - Carbon Herald
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Environmental groups are taking legal action against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) following its decision to delegate authority to Louisiana for approving carbon dioxide (CO2) storage wells, local news source NOLA has reported.

This move is seen as a significant regulatory change that could accelerate the development of a carbon capture and storage (CCS) complex along the Mississippi River industrial corridor from New Orleans to Baton Rouge.

The lawsuit, filed last week in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, seeks to transfer permitting responsibilities back to the EPA, with the argument that federal oversight would better ensure the safety of CCS projects.

Earth Justice attorney James Yskamp emphasized concerns that Louisiana’s regulatory program may be less rigorous compared to the EPA’s standards.

Joined by the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Healthy Gulf, and the Alliance for Affordable Energy, the lawsuit challenges the EPA’s decision, which came in December 2023 despite objections from environmental organizations.

Relevant: Louisiana Receives Permission To Vet Carbon Storage Wells

The dispute arises as the Biden administration prioritizes carbon capture technologies to mitigate climate change, offering substantial federal funding and incentives for related projects.

Critics fear that the push for expedited approvals could compromise environmental and community safeguards, particularly in predominantly Black communities near industrial sites.

Concerns include the risk of groundwater contamination and health hazards from potential CO2 leaks, given the invisibility and potential lethality of the gas.

Despite assurances from EPA Administrator Michael Regan about consultations and provisions for community protection, skepticism remains regarding Louisiana’s ability to manage the permitting process effectively.

Meanwhile, the Louisiana Department of Energy and Natural Resources is gearing up to handle about two dozen pending well applications, anticipating significant operational costs covered by federal grants and new fees imposed on permit applicants.

Read more: NETL Recommends Regional Approach For Carbon Capture And Storage

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