Laredo, TX – On December 28, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded primary permitting authority (“primacy”) to the state of Louisiana for Class VI carbon dioxide storage wells. This is a disappointing blow to the environmental justice communities along the Gulf Coast who have been organizing against this decision for the last few years.
Louisiana, much like Texas, has hundreds of thousands of unplugged oil and gas wells venting toxic gasses into the atmosphere and leaking radioactive material into nearby land and water. The states have similarities in their reluctant regulatory agencies, too: the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (LDNR) and the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC), the state’s oil and gas agency, have long histories of putting industry profits over the interests of the people.
EPA’s decision to grant primacy to Louisiana is troubling because Texas’ RRC has also applied for Class VI primacy and, like Louisiana, has a poor track record overseeing injection wells. Current underground injection control programs have been so badly managed by these state agencies that residents are experiencing larger and more frequent earthquakes, uncontrolled well blowouts which spew toxic fluids and gasses, growing sinkholes that have swallowed entire communities, and contaminated underground sources of drinking water during an era of extreme heat and growing water scarcity.
By giving more permitting authority to these unresponsive and captive regulatory agencies, the EPA is jeopardizing the future of healthy ecosystems, land fertility, access to safe drinking water, and the public health of its constituents.
Over and over again, across the globe, carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects have failed to meet emissions reduction targets. The technology simply does not work, has not improved in the last 50 years of its implementation, and is a dangerous distraction diverting investment away from real climate solutions.