Thursday, June 29, 2023

Pennsylvania Groups Call For Transparency With State Plans For Carbon Capture, Storage

On June 29, eighteen Pennsylvania-based and national groups called on state leaders to commit to transparency regarding Pennsylvania’s carbon management
policies in a letter sent to Governor Shapiro and members of the General Assembly. 

Geologic storage of carbon is relatively new and unproven at this scale and would have significant impacts to landowners, the environment, and to Pennsylvania communities.

State officials must consult the public regarding these far-reaching policies rather than hiding these important decisions in the state budget.

“If Governor Shapiro wants to make environmental justice a top priority for Pennsylvania, he can start by ensuring the communities impacted by these short-sighted carbon storage proposals have a real seat at the table,” said Sarah Martik, Interim Executive Director of the Center for Coalfield Justice. “Anything but a meaningful opportunity to shape actual decisions — and not just simply be consulted in a predetermined process — is a failure on this front.”

“It is deeply troubling that there is even the slightest chance something as complicated as carbon capture and sequestration could be slipped into our state budget,” said Jennifer Quinn, Legislative and Political Director for Sierra Club’s Pennsylvania Chapter. “Pennsylvanians need to be informed and they need to have a voice in this process. Hiding important legislation in the budget keeps the public in the dark and erodes the democratic process. Any legislation regarding this emerging technology needs thoughtful consideration and debate.”

“Carbon management, especially underground storage, significantly raises risks to public health,” said Alison L. Steele, executive director of the Environmental Health Project. “Any leaks, accidents, or intentional releases of polluting substances can have serious consequences for the health of people living in proximity to such infrastructure. Government agencies and industry need to listen to the concerns of residents and involve communities in the siting, monitoring, emergency response, and remediation of any issues surrounding carbon management.”

“Pennsylvania’s embrace of false solutions like blue hydrogen not only furthers the harms of fracking, but also exposes residents to new risks. State leaders must commit to a level of public engagement and debate commensurate with the level of harm we’re likely to see if these large-scale carbon storage projects move forward. Frontline communities deserve nothing less,” said Melissa Ostroff, Pennsylvania Policy and Field Advocate for Earthworks.

“This is a very complex issue that will have far-reaching impact on all Pennsylvanians — particularly those in environmental justice communities. If we are going to take this path, we need to ensure that public health and the environment will not be harmed,” said PennFuture’s Director of Energy and Climate Rob Altenburg. “That means that the public must be meaningfully involved in the process and not subject to the closed-door maneuverings of politicians.”

To date, the public has been largely cut out of conversations regarding carbon management, the groups said.

Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection took steps to begin pursuing state primacy over the EPA’s Class VI program, a significant component of carbon management. 

This process was initiated without consulting the public despite the significant risks involved as well as the EPA’s request urging that states should invest in “robust and ongoing opportunities for public participation.”

Click Here for a copy of the letter.

Resource Links:

-- Senate Environmental Committee Info Session On Carbon Capture Discusses Job Potential; Reaching Net-Zero Carbon Goal; Impacts/Risks Of The Technology; PA’s Poor Track Record In Regulating Pipelines, Oil & Gas Industry  [PaEN]

-- Senate Environmental Committee Sept. 19 Carbon Capture Information Briefing  [2022] 

-- Senate Environmental Committee Hears About Using Carbon Capture Technology To Reduce PA’s Carbon Footprint  [2021]   [PaEN]

-- Sen. Yaw To Introduce Bill Promoting Carbon Capture, Utilization And Sequestration  [PaEN]

-- PA Environmental Council: Clean Hydrogen & Carbon Capture Can Be Part Of A Comprehensive Decarbonization Strategy: Responsibly Deployed With Environmental Integrity, Accountability And Equity  [PaEN]

-- Guest Essay: Carbon Capture And Storage - A False Solution  [PaEN]

[Posted: June 29, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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