More than 200 residents pack meeting about Lake Maurepas Carbon Capture Project

Published 2:40 am Saturday, October 22, 2022

PONCHATOULA — More than 200 residents joined experts on wetland conservation, air pollution, geology and pipeline safety in raising concerns at a community meeting Monday about a proposed project to attempt to store captured industrial carbon emissions under Lake Maurepas.

Tangipahoa Councilwoman Kim Coates organized the Ponchatoula meeting after attending similar informational meetings hosted by industrial gas supply company Air Products in surrounding parishes. It took place just weeks after the company announced that they had started dredging and seismic testing in the lake.

Air Products plans to build a facility that would pipe pressurized carbon through the Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Area to injection wells under Lake Maurepas, where it would be stored. This has led to concerns from local residents and business owners alike about impacts on the fragile marine ecosystem of the shallow lake.

“This is going to turn our lake into a hazardous waste dump,” said Kenny Bayhi, Mayor of Killian, Louisiana. “You can’t remediate dead fish, or dead trees, you can’t bring back destroyed wetlands.”

“We live in the most beautiful place, just leave it alone,” Bayhi continued. “There is no amount of money that would make us understand this and accept it, we are fine the way we are.”

Residents cited safety concerns about the technology and lack of environmental or economic benefits for the surrounding areas. Speakers also pointed to a lack of evidence that carbon capture and sequestration can work at scale.

“The public is asking Air Products smart, hard questions to which there aren’t justifiable answers,” said Jane Patton, Plastics & Petrochemicals Campaign Manager of the Center for International Environmental Law. “The company’s answers in particular to the question of, ‘Why Lake Maurepas?’ were wildly insufficient–just because a drilling location is the best one for a company to bury their waste doesn’t mean it will benefit that local community. And the community clearly sees that and is pushing back.”

Several experts including Scott Eustis from Healthy Gulf, Alex Kolker from Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Jane Patton from the Center for International Environmental Law and Rebecca Triche from National Wildlife Federation attended the meeting. Representatives from Wildlife & Fisheries and top officials from Air Products were also in attendance along with State Representatives Bill Wheat and Sherman Mack, Parish President Robbie Miller and Livingston Councilman Shane Mack.