Controversial EPA Primacy Decision Raises Concerns for Louisiana Communities

The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (LDNR) has been granted primacy over the permitting of Class VI carbon dioxide waste injection wells by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a recent decision. This decision has raised widespread concern among community members, environmental experts, and advocates who fear potential consequences for at-risk Louisiana communities and ecosystems.

Leading up to the decision, community members, including over 500 Healthy Gulf supporters, directly objected to LDNR being granted primacy. The decision is seen as a threat that could pollute vulnerable communities, lead to the destruction of Louisiana’s precious wetlands, and only serve to extend the fossil fuel industry’s stranglehold on the state.

LNDR unprepared to stand up against fossil fuel giants

There is growing apprehension about LDNR’s ability to effectively manage the permitting of Class VI injection wells. The department has a history of mismanagement and lacks the necessary resources to handle such a complex and environmentally sensitive task. Past instances of inadequate oversight and enforcement have raised doubts about the department’s ability to prioritize environmental protection and public health.

Controversial EPA primacy decision opens the door to untested and potentially dangerous carbon waste injection schemes
Diagram showing a hypothetical carbon waste injection system.

The EPA’s decision clearly aligns with the interests of the fossil fuel industry over those of Louisiana residents and environmental concerns. Promoting carbon waste injection as a climate solution is considered a handout to the fossil fuel industry. Carbon capture has been proven ineffective many times over, and underground carbon sequestration is an untested concept. Currently, the vast majority of captured carbon is used to extract even more fossil fuels from the ground. The fossil fuel industry is using carbon waste injection as a stopgap to extend their dominance and push back the clean energy transition.

New Louisiana Governor is an ally of the fossil fuel industry

The EPA decision came shortly before the inauguration of Louisiana’s new Governor, Jeff Landry, described as ”one of the fossil fuel industry’s biggest defenders”. In 2022, Landry helped derail an EPA investigation into pollution and civil rights violations in “Cancer Alley”. He has appointed a former Monsanto Executive to lead the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and has led several lawsuits against everything from offshore oil lease sales to the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Controversial EPA primacy decision could spell trouble for Louisiana communities
Protestors calling for an end to false climate solutions like carbon waste injection.

The fight for clean air, water, and land continues

Despite these challenges, there remains hope for positive change. The widespread opposition from community members, environmental advocates, and concerned citizens demonstrates a collective determination to protect Louisiana’s natural treasures and prioritize the well-being of its people. Healthy Gulf will continue to be a leader in the defense of vulnerable Gulf communities through legislative advocacy, litigation, community organizing, and more. In fact, in November of 2023, we were able to stop the construction of a carbon waste injection site in Lafourche Parish. Major victories like this one can and will happen again!

We are working to shape a future where innovative and responsible approaches address climate challenges without compromising the foundations of the Gulf Coast’s unique ecosystems and communities. It is in this spirit of resilience and cooperation that we find the potential for a brighter and more sustainable tomorrow.

Matt Rota is the Senior Policy Director for Healthy Gulf. He and his team advocate for science-based policies and environmental enforcement that protect Gulf communities.

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