Jun 21, 2023

​​​​New Orleans, LA – Today, Dr. Beverly Wright, Executive Director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ), will testify using the following remarks as prepared for delivery during the EPA’s Public Hearing in opposition to the agency’s proposed approval of Louisiana’s Carbon Capture & Sequestration (CCS) Program.

I am Dr. Beverly Wright, Founder and Executive Director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice based in New Orleans, Louisiana. I oppose approval of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resource’s application for primacy to regulate companies that seek to inject carbon dioxide waste underground.

Through education and research, the Center works collaboratively with communities to build their capacity to drive solutions to industrial pollution that harms their health and warms our planet. We have achieved results in strengthening community organizations, improving the health of community members, training 17,000 people for environmental careers with a job placement rate of 91 percent, and moving our state toward an equitable and renewable energy economy. For more than 30 years, we have worked to place equity and justice at the center of environmental, energy, and climate policies. However, after these steps forward, we are now confronted with the possibility of a major step back.

Oil and gas companies are now attempting to push us back and lock us in the continued burning of dirty energy dressed up with carbon capture and storage or CCS for numerous proposed gas plants. They have targeted Louisiana for the underground disposal of their carbon dioxide waste and want to apply to the DNR for permits to do this. Today’s hearing by the EPA is more than whether DNR should have this permitting authority over the Class VI Underground Injection Control Program, it’s about our future.

What will our future be with the approval of a flawed application by the DNR that fails to acknowledge its Constitutional duties as a public trustee include the active and affirmative protection of overburdened communities in Louisiana, who are disproportionately Black, Indigenous and poor and demand environmental justice?

Do we want our future in the hands of the DNR that plans to outsource to unnamed and unknown companies, without any contract terms, the job of managing millions of tons of carbon dioxide waste that can contaminate groundwater sources of drinking water, trigger earthquakes, and migrate above ground through any of the known and unknown unplugged oil and gas wells?

Who wants a future that repeats the past of leaking and broken-down oil and gas wells that are abandoned by companies? This is what we have with state laws that place the burden on the people of Louisiana to pay for and remedy the damage that occurs from carbon dioxide injection wells, and allow companies to walk away from the liabilities imposed by federal regulations.

Our future needs an EPA that will stand with the people of Louisiana who want a healthy and safe place to live for their families and future generations. I call on the EPA to deny the DNR’s application. Furthermore, I request the EPA to re-start this process in order to consider the recent state legislative changes related to carbon dioxide waste injection, and allow for public notice and comment.

Thank you.