BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency opened public comment on a proposal to let Louisiana manage specific wells that are part of carbon capture storage and carbon dioxide removal.

Currently, the EPA oversees Class VI wells under the Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program. Carbon dioxide gets injected deep underground. The projects, according to the EPA news release, are key in cutting carbon emissions and addressing the climate crisis.

EPA said it has worked with the state to protect communities. The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources’ application “reflects these critical considerations, integrating environmental justice and equity considerations into their permitting process, including enhanced community engagement and evaluation of project impacts on overburdened communities,” according to the release.

The Safe Water Drinking Act is meant to make sure drinking water sources are protected, according to the EPA release. The agency used input from the Council on Environmental Quality to make sure projects use the best scientific options while protecting communities.

“EPA is moving with urgency to combat the climate crisis, and this proposal would help leverage critical technologies to cut harmful climate pollution that jeopardizes people’s health and safety,” EPA Region 6 Administrator Earthea Nance said in the release. “As an agency that is advancing environmental justice, EPA listened to the community voices in the region and worked extensively with the state of Louisiana to ensure its primacy application reflected essential environmental justice and equity considerations. As we work to finalize this proposal, EPA will seek and consider public feedback and continue to prioritize protections for our most vulnerable communities while ensuring they have a meaningful seat at the table.”

State, business leaders support the proposal

“Establishing Class VI primacy for Louisiana is a pivotal step to allow Louisiana leaders to determine what’s best for our industry and our communities. Local oversight will give the state the ability to quickly and safely implement the latest processes, technologies and regulations to keep Louisiana at the forefront of energy innovation and production.

Carbon capture and storage technologies have been safely operating in the U.S. for more than 50 years with an established record of performance. It will provide a viable pathway for the decarbonization and continued operation of existing industrial, manufacturing and energy facilities in our state — preventing facility closures and securing the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of Louisianians.”

President of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association (LMOGA) Tommy Faucheux

“Capturing and storing carbon is the next phase of job creation and economic development in Louisiana. Louisiana being able to permit wells independently of the EPA while implementing EPA standards gives us an edge over other states and protects the environment.

“Governor Edwards, I, and others worked together to encourage the release of these guidelines sooner, not later. I thank him for the partnership.”

U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA)

“This is a great step towards giving Louisiana more oversight on permit approvals for CCUS projects. Far too often, we see these important projects stalled due to the slow grind of federal bureaucracy, while the operators wait in limbo.

Louisiana’s Department of Natural Resources and Office of Conservation know our state’s geology better than the federal government does. They have staff that’s better equipped to dedicate more hours to the approval process. LOGA is encouraged by today’s news, and look forward to the EPA’s swift action in granting Louisiana primacy.”

Mike Moncla, Louisiana Oil & Gas Association president

“Whether it’s exploring the depths of the Gulf of Mexico or finding new ways to provide the world with energy, Louisianians are at the forefront of innovation. It’s been this way for a century.

“Louisiana will lead again as the next generation of energy technology emerges here. With carbon capture and storage, we can safely reduce emissions, increase energy production, create jobs and generate more tax revenue for Louisiana.”

Marc Ehrhardt, executive director of the Grow Louisiana Coalition

Community leaders have opposed these projects

On April 18, Louisiana Against False Solutions hosted an advocacy day in Baton Rouge to talk with legislators and learn about bills related to the issue.

Residents from across South Louisiana came as part of several state and national organizations to protest the move toward carbon capture projects that they argue are dangerous and need more regulation and research.

“I ran for office on guaranteeing clean air, clean water, and affordable energy for all Louisianans. In my view, the carbon capture projects being proposed across the state put all these things at risk,” Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Davante Lewis, District 3, said at the session. “We should not compromise the health and safety of our people, ecosystems, and communities by deploying technologies and pipelines that we don’t know will really address carbon emissions, but do know have harmed people in the past.”

Want to comment?

Comments will be accepted through June 26, and a public hearing is set for June 15 in Baton Rouge.

The in-person session will be 1-3 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. at the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, LaBelle Hearing Room, 1st Floor, LaSalle Building, 617 North Third St., Baton Rouge. Register to speak by June 8 using this form.

Click here for more information on how to submit comments or attend the session.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.