We are rushing into carbon capture.
Watching Louisiana’s oil-soaked politicians madly embracing carbon capture to reduce greenhouse gas emissions recalls a famous saying from the 1960s: Long hair can cover a red neck. Yes, the world desperately needs to reduce emissions any way it can if Louisiana’s coastal zone is to survive climate change. But are Steve Scalise, Garret Graves and the rest of our GOP gang in Congress suddenly turning greener than Rachel Carson? Or is there another reason behind their sudden change? Well, there is. And, as always with this group, it’s about getting the public to pay fossil fuel companies to do the right thing.nola.com
This is the story behind the story.
Here’s the deal. For decades, these petrol-patriots said efforts to reduce emissions at their refineries was bad for America. It would cost them money and hurt consumers, and was unnecessary because climate change was a hoax — and they were not the problem, anyway. But last year President Joe Biden got his Inflation Reduction Act passed, providing roughly $374 billion dollars in grants and tax incentives to encourage American industry to reduce emissions. A large chunk of that will be available to the energy industry to capture and store their refinery emissions underground. The credits start at $45 a ton and could reach a whopping $180 a ton. Such a deal! You and I will be paying them to stop adding to the emissions responsible for larger hurricanes already wreaking greater economic disasters on us, ruinous rises in insurance rates and surging sea levels that could swallow our bottom third in the next 40 years. Best of all (for them), they can still make the fossil fuels that will produce even more carbon than will be captured at their refineries. All while continuing their fight against taxpayer grants to increase green energy. It’s like paying a thief to stop stealing just some of your money.
The oil giants see more profits.
Meanwhile, oil giants like Chevron and Exxon-Mobile see the potential of trillions in profits by providing the pipelines to remove the crisis-causing carbon their refineries and products produce. They made untold billions pumping the poisons into our air, causing this crisis, now they see even more profits taking it out. This obviously goes against the ideas of justice and responsibility our parents taught us. But every politician, lobbyist and environmentalist I talked to said there was no chance of passing a regulation forcing them to clean up their mess. That’s because corporate citizens have more rights and far fewer responsibilities in our democracy than human citizens.
We need to do something.
I’m not saying not to do this; quickly reducing all sources of emissions is essential to our survival. But if we must acquiesce to the grift, let’s make sure we get what we’re paying for, and it doesn’t lead to other environmental degradation. And that might not happen. Graves and others are pushing to have the Environmental Protection Agency give the state permitting responsibilities for capture-and-bury projects. But last year, Louisiana was ranked the most polluted state in the nation, a position it annually hovers around. Does that give anyone confidence these agencies will protect the land, water and wetlands these pipelines might be cut through, stop the pollution that might be spewed into the air or keep close watch on the carbon pumped below? The politicians urging us to rush into this new industry say giving the state authority will reduce permit review times from several years to a few months. And that, they say, could speed up the time frame for reducing emissions, helping slow the pace of global warming. But this is the same congressional delegation that voted against Biden’s bill and continues to oppose funding for green energy. It makes you want to see just what might be hiding under their mullets.
Carbon capture may work but it is not the panacea.