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Carbon capture task force weighs input from oil and gas industry

Air Products' carbon capture facility in Port Arthur, Texas.
Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.
Air Products' carbon capture facility in Port Arthur, Texas.

Over recent months, a state task force studying Louisiana’s growing carbon capture industry has heard from a variety of voices. On Thursday, industry leaders got their turn.

The task force was created by Senate resolution during the 2023 legislative session after the launch of several carbon capture projects raised an outcry from local residents. Legislators filed a flurry of bills in an attempt to give localities more power in decision-making, but all except one failed.

Thursday’s meeting was the third time the task force met, and it gave business leaders and utilities a chance to present their cases before the task force issues its final report next month. In previous meetings, members heard from landowners, citizens, researchers and government officials.

Advocates for oil, gas and petrochemical companies said the business of capturing carbon from facilities and storing it deep underground is poised to take off in Louisiana after the state gained primary control over regulating the industry at the end of 2023 — a power usually held by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The state’s oil and gas industry has declined over the past decades. A state that once had nearly 400 active offshore oil rigs now has only 15.

Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association President Tommy Faucheaux said they view carbon capture as a boon for Louisiana’s energy industry.

“We are on the verge of a new golden age of energy production in Louisiana,” Faucheaux told the task force.

Mike Moncla, who leads the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, said there are currently 55 proposals for projects in Louisiana that involve capturing carbon — the most of any state. If they all move forward, Louisiana will see 385 new wells drilled, he said. For context, 60 new wells were drilled in the state last year.

Moncla touted the expected increase in ad valorem and sales tax revenue in parishes as a result of the proposed projects, noting that the companies’ investments will trickle down to other local businesses as well.

Government officials and citizens who didn’t have a chance to speak at the last meeting also provided their thoughts. Guy Cormier of the Police Jury Association of Louisiana emphasized the importance of notifying locals of possible projects early in the process to gather input.

The Environmental Defense Fund’s state director, Liz Russell, also noted the state will need to ensure it has adequate staffing to properly evaluate the dozens of project proposals that will soon land on the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources’ desk, as well as meet the need for more inspections and monitoring to enforce regulations.

“Each well should be expected to take more than 1,500 working hours to permit alone,” Russell said.

The state task force is expected to meet one more time to approve its final report. The group is required to complete the report by Feb. 15 and then disband.

Halle Parker reports on the environment for WWNO's Coastal Desk. You can reach her at hparker@wwno.org.