Green Climate Policy Could Prove Disaster for Manatees in Louisiana
Louisiana, which has a history of natural disasters as well as man-made disasters, is about to embark on a dangerous "clean-energy" initiative that has the potential to end in a devastating ecological disaster. Air Products, a petrochemical company in Baton Rouge, plans to build a new plant in Ascension Parish. This plant will “capture and sequester 95 percent of the process facility’s CO2 emissions” and pump it into the bottom of Lake Maurepas in Livingston Parish; one of Louisiana's most beautiful and life-filled lakes, to store it there. The State used eminent domain to acquire the site and unless something major happens, the plan to pump C02 into the ground around the lake will proceed. There are zero long-term studies on the effect of pumping C02 into an ecosystem that will affect the environment. Does the C02 leach out through the rocks, and if so, what are the long-term ecological consequences of this?
The lakes manatee population, which should be protected under the threatened species act, is also under direct threat. The West Indian manatee is a federally threatened species. It is illegal to touch, harass or harm them. Because of an increase in manatee populations and the success of conservation and habitat restoration efforts, Manatees were down-listed from an endangered species to a threatened species in 2017. The manatee which travels from Florida makes its way into the Amite River and diversion canal via Lake Ponchatrain and the dredging and exploration of the lake bed is in the path of the manatee.
In addition to the subsurface survey, Air Products has begun preliminary work to install two stratigraphic test wells on Lake Maurepas. "The purpose is to further confirm the geology beneath Lake Maurepas as suitable for permanent sequestration of CO2." While their website is touting the virtue of capturing carbon and storing it, in the lake, sequestering their end product could prove disastrous for Louisiana and its residents, as well as the flora and fauna living in and around the lake. Air Products claims that "Louisiana’s geology is seen as some of the best in the world for permanent geologic sequestration. Louisiana has a highly trained, skilled workforce capable of constructing and operating permanent geologic sequestration projects and the necessary associated infrastructure." Considering that Louisiana is notorious for having poorly planned civil engineering projects, one might question that ascertain. Several examples of this are:
The floods of 2016, in the city of Baton Rouge, created havoc and left many places to be underwater after a period of rain over the course of a few weeks
The catastrophic levee failure in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina; the city, which survived the initial storm, was flooded after “levees and flood walls failed or were breached in more than 50 locations” causing the Gulf of Mexico to swamp the city.
The Lake Peigneur Salt Mine drilling accident.
The Center for Progressive Reform has written a paper, entitled The False Promise of Carbon Capture as a Climate Solution in Louisiana and Beyond which explicitly states that “Neither the technology to capture most, much less all, carbon dioxide emissions from polluting facilities nor the ability to safely contain gas permanently underground has been proven, and the United States does not have the regulatory structure to monitor either.” Gateway Containers has an excellent article on Removing CO2 From the Air Through a Shipping Container wherein companies like Climeworks, “uses a shipping container-based system to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and reuses that CO2 for a range of different industrial and farming processes.” They suggest “Imagine if Coca-Cola were to only use captured CO2 to put the fizz in the billions of bottles of its drinks it produces annually?” This could provide a possible solution to another current issue; the fact that the food and beverage industry is currently experiencing a CO2 shortage.
Governor John Bell Edwards signed into effect the climate initiative task force whereby he is vowing to reduce the levels of Carbon Dioxide in the air, but his initiative does not take into effect the environmental impacts of his carbon reduction plan. We reached out to the department of fish and wildlife, as well as other environmental groups, and have not received any replies. It would appear that every agency overseeing the environment is on board with the Governor's climate plan.
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