Cassidy places hold on EPA nominees over carbon capture project approval delay
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) on Wednesday announced a hold on the Biden administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nominees, citing what he said were delays in approval of a Louisiana application for carbon capture wells.
The Safe Drinking Water Act allows states to apply with the EPA for underground well permitting. Louisiana has already secured such permits for five classes of wells and has applied for underground carbon sequestration wells as well. The application has not moved forward since October, according to Cassidy. Cassidy said he discussed the matter with EPA Administrator Michael Regan on Wednesday after applying the hold.
Cassidy called the completion of the application vital to achieving the emissions reductions in the bipartisan infrastructure package President Biden signed in November. Cassidy was one of 19 Republican senators to vote for the package.
The Republican senator also noted that the administration itself has expressed support for carbon capture projects. Earlier this week, the White House Council on Environmental Quality said that the Biden administration “recognizes the imperative for CCUS [carbon capture, utilization and storage] actions to be considered in a timely manner and in the context of a strong regulatory regime.”
“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,” Cassidy said in a statement. “The EPA has emphasized their desire to lower emissions and ensure a healthy environment yet hinders Louisiana’s ability to do just that.”
In August 2020, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signed an executive order setting a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Given the major role oil and gas production plays in the state’s economy, Harry Vorhoff, the deputy director for the governor’s office of coastal activity, cited carbon capture as one possible way to reconcile the state economy with the goal.
“EPA is aware of the Senator’s request and will respond through the proper channels,” an EPA spokesperson told The Hill.
Updated at 4:01 p.m.