Some of the top US oil states are trying to seize control over carbon capture wells from federal regulators in order to speed up the use of carbon capture technology in the oil industry.
As things stand, it takes roughly six years for the federal government to issue permits allowing the injection of CO2 into these wells.
And so oil-producing states like Louisiana and Texas are pushing to wrest the permit review process along with the authority to grant them from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The initiative is by no means unprecedented, however, as North Dakota succeeded in winning oversight in 2018.
Its first permit was issued last year following an eight-month review.
New Mexico is currently also negotiating with the EPA to take over regulation of carbon sequestration wells.
To obtain oversight rights, every state must be able to demonstrate an equal level of stringency of its regulations as those of the EPA.
Concerns among environmentalists, however, are that regulatory agencies in oil-friendly states will only result in over-tolerant monitoring once state regulators are put in charge.
Texas has already seen a similar case when the state’s air quality regulator was found to have improperly been monitoring one of the local major air polluters.
And among others, Texas is also home to oil and gas giant Exxon Mobil, which is assessing the potential of an enormous carbon reservoir just off the coast together with a whole list of other energy companies.
Further concerns have to do with how carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) can actually promote further burning of fossil fuels in oil states and delaying the move to renewables.
On the other hand, however, giving the state control over the carbon capture permits and review process will undoubtedly speed up current CCS projects and will attract more within state borders.