February 16, 2022

Cassidy Places Holds on EPA Nominees over Delays in Permitting of Louisiana Carbon Capture

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) spoke today with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan regarding the State of Louisiana’s application to obtain the ability to permit, site and monitor carbon sequestration wells. The conversation followed Sen. Cassidy’s decision to block all EPA nominees from moving forward in the U.S. Senate due to unnecessary delays in EPA’s handling of Louisiana’s application. 

“Louisiana is the ideal location to store carbon underground and lower emissions. We have met the requirements and we have the workers, capacity and resources to begin this process. All that’s needed is the green light from the Biden administration,” said Dr. Cassidy. “The EPA has emphasized their desire to lower emissions and ensure a healthy environment yet hinders Louisiana’s ability to do just that.”

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, states may claim from EPA the right to permit, site and monitor underground wells. Louisiana currently possesses this right for 5 of 6 classes of wells and is seeking to gain this ability for wells that store carbon underground. The state has worked with the EPA to ensure a thorough and complete application along with a rigorous set of regulations but the application has remained stalled since October.

If state-based permitting is achieved, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources will be able to more thoroughly and quickly analyze applications for carbon storage than the EPA due to the greater number of engineers focused on the issue at the state-level than at the EPA regional office. This is a key step to realizing the potential of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill that provides over $12 billion for industrial decarbonization, carbon capture, and hydrogen developed from natural gas and an additional $5 billion for carbon pipelines. 

In recent weeks, the Biden administration has expressed support for State primacy of permitting and Carbon Capture, Utilization and Sequestration. In remarks made to the National Association of State Energy Officials, Department of Energy Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Jennifer Wilcox stated “One thing that we want to do is to be able to work with the states in order to gain that expertise within the state that’s required for primacy, which could lead to more opportunities for CO2-dedicated storage projects” and in guidance released on Tuesday by the White House Council on Environmental Quality stated “The administration recognizes the imperative for CCUS actions to be considered in a timely manner and in the context of a strong regulatory regime.”

Senator Cassidy calls on the administration to follow through on their expressed position and finalize Louisiana’s application for the right to permit carbon sequestration wells.