Bills aiming to block carbon sequestration in Lake Maurepas defeated

Published 5:41 pm Friday, May 19, 2023

BATON ROUGE — Two bills aiming to protect Lake Maurepas from carbon capture and sequestration projects were soundly defeated by a vote from the Louisiana House of Representatives this week during the 21st day of the regular legislative session.

Earlier this month, both HB 120 and HB267 moved forward favorably in the House of Representative’s Committee on Natural Resources after committee members listened to impassioned pleas from constituents, including members of the Lake Maurepas Preservation Society. The bills moved forward to a third reading on May 15.

HB 120 (Muscarello) sought to preserve the scenic and recreational quality of local waterways by prohibiting permanent, above-surface structures from being installed on Lake Maurepas and Lake Pontchartrain. The current law gives the commissioner of conservation authority to issue permits related to oil and gas drilling, carbon dioxide sequestration, and other mineral-related activities.

During this week’s proceedings, the bill was amended to remove Lake Pontchartrain from the text. The amendment was adopted with 82 yeas and 16 nays before Rep. Muscarello Jr. made a motion for the final passage of the bill. It was defeated with 27 in support, 72 against, and six absent.

HB 267 (Wheat) proposed placing a 10-year moratorium on carbon dioxide sequestration projects in Lake Maurepas and the Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Area. During Monday’s proceedings, the verbiage of the bill was changed to decrease the length of the moratorium from 10 years to five years. The bill was called on for final passage and ultimately failed with 26 yeas and 75 nays.

Public comment was not permitted at this stage of the legislative process.

Two separate bills concerning carbon sequestration were involuntarily deferred by a majority vote of the Committee on Natural Resources on May 2. HB 453 would have required that carbon dioxide injected for geologic sequestration using a Class VI injection well be transported to and sequestered in the Gulf of Mexico. The second bill, HB 454, proposed local elections be required for the approval of carbon dioxide sequestration within a parish.

The Environmental Protection Agency is hosting a public hearing in Baton Rouge on June 15 to gather feedback on the placement and monitoring of carbon sequestration projects from 1 to 3 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, June 15 at the Louisiana Department of Natural Resource’s Labelle Hearing Room, located at 617 N. Third St. in Baton Rouge.