(Reuters) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by May should complete a review of Louisiana’s request to take on oversight of carbon capture projects, according to a letter to the state, which wants to speed up approvals.
Louisiana is seeking to permit and monitor so-called Class VI wells, which bury carbon dioxide and other climate-warming gases underground. EPA now decides most requests, and permitting has taken years in some cases, critics say.
The state is responsible for about 16% of oil output and ranks third in natural gas and reserves, according to the Energy Information Administration. It is home to the most number of liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals, which plan to bury emissions as a way to mitigate their climate impact.
After the EPA reviews Louisiana’s application, there will be a 60-day public comment period, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in the letter to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards dated March 13.
Edwards this year wrote to the EPA’s administrator to request an update on the application process, citing concerns about a lack of communication by the federal agency.
Carbon capture recently got a shot in the arm through the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act, which provides incentives for carbon projects to make them economically attractive.
Occidental Petroleum, Talos Energy, and Verde CO2 are firms eying carbon capture and storage projects in Louisiana.
Louisiana’s application was revised by the state’s Natural Resources Department and regional EPA office to ensure protections for low-income and minority residents, resulting in a memorandum of agreement (MOA), the letter said.
The MOA protections will help build “a robust environmental justice program … and will serve as an example for future MOAs between the EPA and other states seeking Class VI primacy,” Regan wrote.