Environmental win-win possible with carbon capture

State and industry officials are bullish on the prospect of Louisiana becoming a national leader in the practice of carbon capture and sequestration, basically capturing carbon dioxide that would otherwise contribute to atmospheric warming and injecting it deep into the ground.
With huge economic development projects lining up — and with a full understanding of the state’s extreme vulnerability to rising tides and extreme weather associated with climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions — we are bullish too.
So we support the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s recent decision to hand regulatory powers — technically called “primacy” — over Class VI injection wells to the Department of Natural Resources, making Louisiana one of just three states to have this authority.
This, supporters of the hard-fought decision say, will cut down on government red tape, allow regulators who know the landscape to take the lead and get projects up and running quickly. All this promises to be a very big deal to the state, which has leveraged favorable geology and an existing petrochemical infrastructure to lure major projects.
That said, we can’t ignore concerns that, when it comes to overseeing the fossil fuel industry, Louisiana hasn’t always been particularly concerned about enforcing regulations.
So we hope state regulators take this opportunity as a vote of confidence but not a free pass.
EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the agreement comes with protections for those living near carbon capture facilities, including robust public participation requirements, and that Louisiana can be a model for other states.
“It can be done in a way that builds in environmental justice principles that allow for the community to participate in the process and ensures that these communities are safe,” Regan said.
Officials with DNR under former Gov. John Bel Edwards, a strong carbon capture proponent, had said the department is beefing up staff, that state rules are going to be more stringent than federal ones, and that a new generation of staffers understand their mission and don’t want to kick environmental cans down the road.
New Gov. Jeff Landry, a fossil-fuel advocate who also cheered the development and has voiced doubt about climate science, would be wise to keep what he inherited in place. After all, carbon capture promises to keep these industries healthy even as the country transitions to a less polluting energy economy.
This unlocks the next phase of job creation and economic development in Louisiana,” U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, a leading advocate for primacy, said. “It also creates a competitive advantage compared to other states while protecting the environment.”
We agree. We also urge state officials to make sure that last part doesn’t get lost in all the excitement and to make the most of this opportunity to prove that Louisiana can promote business while getting environmental regulation right.

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