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Concerns linger in the air as company moves forward to store CO2 under Lake Maurepas

2 months 1 week 3 days ago Thursday, September 15 2022 Sep 15, 2022 September 15, 2022 6:18 PM September 15, 2022 in News
Source: WBRZ

LIVINGSTON PARISH - It was a relaxing day on Lake Maurepas for a couple of fishermen Thursday, but there are concerns that could soon change with a proposed plan to store carbon dioxide under the popular lake.

"It's so beautiful, it's untouched," owner of Southern Boys outdoor shop, Kinion Bankston, said.

But there are mounting concerns the untouched beauty could soon be disrupted. Air Products, an industrial gas supplier, will conduct a seismic survey of the lake in October to further the plan.

"Here, you're setting off little tiny seismic charges that send vibrations down to the earth, and you're reading what comes back to see what sort of layers you have," Patrick Courreges with the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources said.

The goal is to store CO2 under the lake, rather than releasing it into the atmosphere. It's part of a new blue hydrogen clean energy complex that Air Products plans to build in Ascension Parish.

With only a couple of weeks left until the surveying begins, people who live in the parishes around the lake feel like they're in the dark and fear what could happen when the company is allowed to drill. The announcement about the plans came from the governor last October.

"Our community around Lake Maurepas was trying to recover from Hurricane Ida that about wiped us off of the map," Bankston said.

In an effort to slow things down and to have questions answered, the Livingston Parish Council recently passed a moratorium banning injection wells from being installed under the lake, meaning CO2 couldn't be stored there.

Councilman Randy Delatte says their efforts may not have any effect, since federal laws dictate what can and can't happen.

"State of Louisiana cannot permit a 6, which is the injection. That is the United States Government, Federal EPA who is doing that, so we might not even be doing things that are legal or will hold up in a court of law," Delatte said.

That's why Delatte and his constituents have met with the company and environmental officials as recently as this week, hoping to get answers to their questions before anything happens.

"We still don't understand why it is coming to Livingston Parish if it is a safe technology," Delatte said.

"They're going to dredge and tear up the bottom of the lake. It's supposed to be a shrimp sanctuary, and I guess that is out the window," Bankston said.

Air Products released the following statement about the project:

"The clean energy complex Air Products plans to construct will propel Louisiana as the leader in the nation's clean energy transition. This $4.5 billion investment in Louisiana will produce clean hydrogen and will feature carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and permanent sequestration. Air Products is not new to Louisiana or to hydrogen. We have operated safely in the state for over 55 years and employ approximately 330 Louisiana citizens. Air Products' new project will add 170 high-paying jobs with an average salary with benefits of over $90,000 annually. We are the world's largest producer of hydrogen and we do it daily and safely. While we continue our work through the project planning phase, Air Products will continue to engage with local stakeholders to share the project's details and environmental benefits and address any misconceptions or questions community members may have."

See more from the company here.

Delatte says he plans to have another public hearing with the company before the surveying begins. That date is not yet set.

You can read more of our coverage on the CO2 storage plan here, and here.

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