Livingston Parish Imposes One-Year Moratorium on Injection Wells, Pausing Carbon Capture Efforts | Environment

Livingston parish leaders voted unanimously on Thursday to impose a one-year moratorium on injection wells used in carbon captureciting the need for stricter local regulations amid concerns over the safety of the technology.

Carbon capture and storage is a process by which carbon emissions are captured at an industrial site and injected deep underground. The practice has been hailed by industry as a promising avenue for reducing emissions, but heavily criticized by environmental groups who argue it’s too risky and ineffective.

Louisiana was becoming a hub for technology, with companies staking claims in various parishes throughout the past year. Now the issue of storing carbon emissions has come to Livingston Parish.

Council members and residents have fiercely opposed such projects planned for the Holden and Lake Maurepas areas, expressing concern that the projects could endanger their communities and their drinking water.

“I, for one, am tired of Livingston Parish being everyone’s dumping ground,” council chairman Jeff Ard said. “If you want to impose it on us, you will pay us to bring it here.”

Although Class VI wells — defined as sinks used to inject carbon dioxide into deep rock formations — are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, City Councilman Shane Mack said there are “other things that need to be looked at” that he says can be addressed by local government.

Its plan includes specific requirements for materials compatible with contact with CO2, operation and location of injection wells, monitoring, post-injection site maintenance and record keeping.

The aim is to suspend permission to drill and inject CO2 into the ground so that the parish council can “draw up a regulation to ensure that the quality of life and safety of the inhabitants of the parish of Livingston is protected. “.

At least two carbon capture projects are being considered for Livingston Parish.

Air Products plans to build a “blue hydrogen” manufacturing plant near Burnside that would extract methane from natural gas. The plan is to open the facility by 2026. The carbon dioxide produced in the process would be captured and pressurized, turning it into liquid. The liquid would be injected deep underground into wells across the parishes of Livingston, St. James, St. John the Baptist and Tangipahoa. Crown lands would include the Maurepas Marsh Wildlife Management Area and Lake Maurepas.

Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum, plans to build a carbon sequestration facility in Livingston. He leases 300,000 acres of land in the parish of Weyerhaeuser. OLCV has filed a permit with the EPA to construct injection wells. The company hopes to have the Livingston facility online by 2025.

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Mack told a recent Ordinance Committee meeting that Oxy’s facilities north of Holden were near residential structures.

“It’s something that we really need to look at carefully,” he said. “The location of these wells and how it affects residential life, farmland…all those sorts of things.”

Several council members said they had no knowledge of carbon capture projects until residents contacted them – a trend several said was concerning.

Although Mack noted that his moratorium proposal was strictly to buy time for his community to do more research and better understand the risk of carbon capture, some residents and many of his fellow council members were unequivocal in their desire to forever stop any type of sequestration efforts in the parish.

“The bottom line is how do we stop them,” Councilman Randy Delatte said.

Many spoke of children and grandchildren they feared might be affected in the future. Eileen Bates-McCarroll, the mayor of the city of Albany, asked council members to examine the three water wells in her area that support 2,300 residents. What would happen in 10, 15 or 20 years if carbon sequestration became a common phenomenon in the parish?

A resident referred to the 2020 incident in Satartia, Mississippi, where a pipeline carrying compressed carbon dioxide ruptured. More than 40 people had to be hospitalized and more than 300 had to be evacuated.

Mack took the time to recognize the value of the chemical industry to Louisiana, noting that many people have “earned a good living” and taken care of their families through such careers. But he stressed how “precious” the parish is to those who grew up there.

“I hope and pray with all I have that the industries understand our concern,” he said.

Advocate Business Editor Timothy Boone contributed to this story.

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