Louisiana Speaker’s legislation solidifies path forward for job-creating CCS projects
Session is in full swing here in Louisiana, and as a surprise to no one, there has already been significant discussion around the fiercely debated topic of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) during our lawmakers’ first few days in Baton Rouge. From leadership to rank-and-file members, legislators on both sides of the issue had pre-filed bills before the April 10th start date – demonstrating just how much attention we can expect to be paid to CCS in the coming weeks and months.
One would think, with this being an issue garnering full-throated, bipartisan support from the highest levels of our state government – from Speaker Schexnayder to Governor Edwards and Attorney General Jeff Landry – that legislators would be rallying behind this issue in lockstep. But continued pressure from the activist community has spurred some lawmakers to introduce legislation opposing the technology.
Fortunately, those bills have not yet seen movement. What has moved, and is expected to hit the floor of the Louisiana House of Representatives as soon as next week, is a bill introduced by Speaker Schexnayder (HB 571). Voted out of the House Committee on Natural Resources and Environment just this past week, we can expect further action on the bill in the coming days as it moves through committees and onto the floor.
The Speaker’s legislation, in addition to advancing several tax and funding provisions that allow Louisiana to maximize the fiscal benefits of these projects proceeding, importantly implements notice requirements to the parishes directly affected by CO2 sequestration projects. Opponents of the technology have frequently raised concerns about a lack of notice and public announcement surrounding the advancement of CCS projects within their communities. The noticing structure put in place should ease these concerns considerably. As the Speaker has indicated himself during the recent markup: you need this legislation if you support CCS, and you need this legislation if you don’t.
As with many groundbreaking technologies that change the way our energy sector interacts with communities, we have seen a fair share of opposition and misunderstanding about what these projects would actually look like. But claims that this is an “unproven” technology that could endanger communities along pipeline routes and injection sites are motivated by an emotional, knee-jerk response.
As we have previously reported, CCS has been around for decades, and has seen billions of dollars invested from national and international authorities to ensure its safety and efficacy. Louisiana is not a “guinea pig,” as some may believe. There are dozens of operational CCS facilities in place around the world. But the promise of CCS in Louisiana is unique, and one that will create jobs and further solidify our state as a leader in the energy world.
Of course, the CCS debate is not limited to the confines of chambers in Baton Rouge. There remains a significant effort at the federal level to ensure Louisiana is granted “primacy” by the EPA – the necessary permissions to actually begin injecting the captured carbon within geological formations underground. Just this past week, US Representative Garret Graves assured an audience at an event that Louisiana would be granted primacy by the end of this year.
In the meantime, the fight will continue here in Louisiana. We’ll be tracking the debate closely as Louisiana’s most powerful leaders walk the line with misunderstood opponents, to ensure the advancement of this critical job-creating technology.