A bill that would create a pilot program to store carbon dioxide underground is going back to the state Senate. The legislation, which passed the House on Monday, has undergone a lot of changes.
The original proposal would have allowed companies to store CO2 underground as long as they got consent from owners of about half the land. This current bill creates a pilot program that allows one company to take ownership of the land through eminent domain, if approved by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
Wabash Valley Resources LLC wants to build an ammonia production facility in Terre Haute and store its CO2 emissions underground to reduce its carbon footprint. But activists with the Citizens Action Coalition worry injecting CO2 could cause earthquakes and pollute drinking water.
That’s why executive director Kerwin Olson urged the state to study CO2 storage before making policy changes.
“How can we sort of declare that the underground storage of carbon dioxide is a ‘benefit to public and the welfare of the state of Indiana’ when we haven’t even studied the issue yet?” he says.
Olson says he’s also concerned that the language in the bill is so vague that it would allow the company to store CO2 anywhere around the state. But the author of the bill, Sen. Jon Ford (R-Terre Haute), says that would be impractical for the company.
Ford says the bill insures a more thorough study of the effects of CO2 storage by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, not just a summer study committee that meets for a few hours.
“This should make people feel more at ease that the DNR will do a real study,” he says.
Rep. Alan Morrison (R-Terre Haute) is sponsoring the bill. He says it will create about 500 construction jobs over three years and 125 full time jobs once the facility is complete with an average salary of $75,000.
Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.