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Say NO to Carbon Capture and Storage in PA

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07/16/24

The Honorable Josh Shapiro
Re: Senate Bill 831 - Letter of Strong Opposition

Dear Governor Shapiro,

We wish to express our strong opposition to SB 831. Senator Yaw’s bill is a profoundly consequential piece of legislation whose adverse impacts cannot be overstated. 

Declaring a nonexistent technology to be in the public interest defies logic, yet that is what SB 831 does. Billions of dollars have been spent on Carbon Capture and Storage demonstration projects since the Obama administration. None has succeeded. 

Carbon Capture has been used for Enhanced Oil Recovery for decades. Storing CO2 was never the objective. As we have cited in our statements to you and the legislature, Stephen Rassenfoss wrote in the Journal of Petroleum Engineering that “While a lot has been learned from EOR (enhanced oil recovery), there may well be significant differences between cycling just enough gas through a reservoir to increase production and injecting as much gas as possible for permanent storage, often in unfamiliar sorts of formations.”  (emphasis added)

The bill strips Pennsylvania landowners of their subsurface property rights, shifts liability to the state, and exposes everyone to a new and very dangerous generation of fossil fuel infrastructure. Senator Yaw calls the bill “a proactive step to secure Pennsylvania’s future as a hub for carbon capture and sequestration.” How can such extreme measures taken to the detriment of the people be considered a proactive step for anyone but the parties that will profit from it?

The bill never had a hearing, nor was it referred to the House Environmental Resources and Energy committee. Instead, it was moved quickly through both the Consumer Protection and Appropriation committees without discussion. Representative Matzie attempted to school his colleagues during the floor debate. He misrepresented Senator Yaw’s description of the bill by framing it instead as a way to ensure that the state has control over a technology whose coming is an inevitability. 

A state that is taking control does not violate landowners’ property rights, nor burden taxpayers with liability, nor expose communities to dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure, nor put this massive responsibility on an already overburdened regulatory agency with a history of failing to protect the environment and  Pennsylvanians from this industry. Carbon Capture and Storage is only unavoidable if our government lacks the courage to avoid it.

SB 831 should not be enacted for the sake of the Commonwealth and the people who depend on you to make the courageous choice to protect them.

 

Respectfully,

Organizational signers

Karen Feridun, Co-founder, Better Path Coalition

Rebecca Roter, Chairperson, Breathe Easy Susquehanna County

Sharon Furlong, Co-Founder, Spokesperson, Bucks Environmental Action

Sandy Field, Chair, Climate Reality Project: Susquehanna Valley PA Chapter

Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network

Megan McDonough, Pennsylvania Director, Food & Water Watch

Maya van Rossum, Founder, Green Amendments For The Generations

Michael Sauers, Writer/Editor, Greenfire Coalition Writers’ Forum

Ann Pinca, Lebanon Pipeline Awareness

Michael Bagdes-Canning, Co-Founder /Planning Group Member, Marcellus Outreach Butler

Michael Pollack, Executive Director, March on Harrisburg

Ashley Funk, Executive Director, Mountain Watershed Association

Tamela Trussell, Move Past Plastic

Jay Notartomaso, Founder, NEPA Green Coalition

Karen Elias, Co-Founder, No False Solutions PA

Craig Stevens, Founder, Patriots From The Oil & Gas Shales

Michael Bagdes-Canning, Co-Founder / Steering Committee, Pennsylvania Action on Climate

Dianne Peterson, Pittsburghers Against Single Use Plastic (PA SUP)

Tonyehn Verkitus, Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania

Barbara Jarmoska, President, Project CoffeeHouse

Gillian Graber, Executive Director, Protect PT (Penn-Trafford)

Maren Cooke, Director, Putting Down Roots

Michael Schroeder, Quittipahilla Watershed Association

Jesse Turri, President, Responsible Decarbonization Alliance

Barbara Laxon, Associate, Save Our Streams PA

Sandy Field, Chair, Save our Susquehanna

Faith Zerbe, Co-founder, Schuylkill Pipeline Awareness

Doug Mason, Chair, Sierra Club Moshannon Group

Lora Snyder, Co-founder, WaSEPA

Jan Milburn, President, Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens Group

 

Individual signers

 

Halla Baker, Chester County

Pennie Christie, Jefferson County

Grace DeLallo, Westmoreland County

Mary Ann Demi, Mifflin County

Chris DiGiulio, Chester County

Sandy Hartzell, Hundredfold Farm, Adams County

Dawn Kane, Montgomery County

Kathleen Krebs, RN (retired), Allegheny

Marcia Lehman, Beaver County

Kevin Long, Perry County

Sharon Lynch, Beaver County

Libby Madarasz, Chester County

Helen Ortmann, Allegheny County

Marta Pelusi, Allegheny County

Jay Sweeney, Wyoming County

Victoria Sweitzer, Susquehanna County

Chie Togami, Dauphin County

Sheri Deal-Tyne, Johnson County, IA

July 5, 2024

 

Members of the PA House of Representatives
Re: Senate Bill 831 - Position Letter of Strong Opposition from 42 Organizations and 46 Individuals


VIA Electronic Submission

 

The undersigned organizations are writing to express our concern that the House Consumer Protection, Technology, and Utilities committee voted on an extremely consequential bill without holding a public hearing. SB831, the Carbon Dioxide Geologic Sequestration Primacy Act, amended by the committee, is now advancing through the legislative process. The bill would open the door to geologic storage of carbon dioxide by declaring it to be in the public interest and a beneficial use. Among its provisions are those that:

  • support the state’s pursuit of primacy over Class VI injection wells 

  • allow for the use, not just sequestration of carbon dioxide

  • establish a form of subsurface eminent domain of landowners’ pore space

  • allow for entry onto private land for seismic testing without landowners’ permission, 

  • shift liability from the industry to the state

Each of these provisions demands scrutiny. However, we argue that the bill completely disregards fundamental issues regarding carbon capture and storage and the use of pore space that warrant your attention.

We are out of time for necessary site characterization

Naomi Oreskes, probably best known as the co-author of Merchants of Doubt, wrote in an essay in Scientific American in March that she is among geologists who believe that long term CO2 storage could be achieved, but that its success relies on identifying sites where CO2 will remain sequestered. “But site characterization takes time that we don't have,” she says. She points out that billions were spent over two decades to evaluate Yucca Mountain as a site for nuclear waste disposal before the proposal failed. Identifying sequestration sites is just as challenging.

“We all know the saying that what goes up must come down, but the opposite is largely true, too (at least if the materials involved are liquid or gas), because fluids migrate through the microscopic holes and fractures that are found in even the most solid of rocks,” she explains. 

CO2 plume’s path is unpredictable

One of the reasons Pennsylvania and other states are considering a form of subsurface eminent domain referred to as unitization, or collective storage as it is called here, is due to the unpredictable path the CO2 plume will take once injected. 

Stephen Rassenfoss wrote in the Journal of Petroleum Engineering that “Plume modeling is an emerging challenge for geoscientists and petroleum engineers, and there is a limited amount of storage data to rely on. While a lot has been learned from EOR (enhanced oil recovery), there may well be significant differences between cycling just enough gas through a reservoir to increase production and injecting as much gas as possible for permanent storage, often in unfamiliar sorts of formations.”

Research is not far enough along to know CO2 sequestration’s effects

Sandra Steingraber, Senior Scientist for the Science and Environmental Health Network, reviewed some of the issues scientists are still researching when she spoke at our Virtual Brown Bag Briefing in May. When injected CO2 encounters water, it can become carbonic acid. What effect, if any, does corrosive carbonic acid have on the rocks where the CO2 is being stored? When carbonic acid moves about, what effect does it have on the cap rock that is critical to CCS’ success? How do injection well operators know when the pore space is filled up? How will we know if the CO2 remains sequestered? What does permanent mean?

The Marcellus may not be a suitable cap rock

Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources says it has been researching CCS for the past two decades, but the three reports it always cites were written 15 years ago shortly after the fracking boom began. 

One of the 2009 DCNR report stated, “The Marcellus Shale would likely be an appropriate cap rock, but continued exploration and potential development in this unit for natural gas production could potentially compromise the integrity of this formation as a viable cap rock in areas of natural gas production. Further evaluation of the structural geology of the Salina Group will be required to evaluate the potential for vertical migration of CO2.”

Regarding the Onondaga Limestone, the report says, “This hydraulic fracturing will likely compromise the suitability of the Marcellus shale as a cap rock in many areas, and may impact the underlying Onondaga Limestone as well. This potential impact should be evaluated further.”

And the Oriskany? “It should be noted that the Marcellus Shale is the ultimate cap rock for the Oriskany Sandstone, although in some places other formations directly overlie the Oriskany Sandstone. The development of the Marcellus Shale creates difficulty with respect to its resulting containment of any CO2 sequestered in the Oriskany. In terms of the deeper saline formations, wells installed into these units will penetrate through the Marcellus Shale. In addition to the Marcellus, Pennsylvania is home to an active oil and gas industry that during a typical year drills thousands of producing oil and gas wells. These wells penetrate the entire geologic section from the Upper Devonian through the Silurian. Each of the wells drilled to the saline units will penetrate these same formations. The crucial elements of containment include well integrity (increased casing and cement requirements) and cap rock integrity which results in isolation of these producing formations. The preferred approach would be to designate specific areas for CO2 injection only, away from areas of active oil and gas operations,” which, as Global Energy Monitor noted, “could prove extremely difficult at a time when gas is a tradable commodity but carbon isn’t.”

CO2 injection wells should not be located near poorly plugged or unplugged wells

Another DCNR 2009 report cautioned, “Injecting CO2 into an area occupied by unplugged or improperly plugged wells invites leakage, especially if the injection reservoir formerly acted as an oil and/or natural-gas producing or gas-storage reservoir. In Pennsylvania’s older oil-and-gas fields, many drill holes exist that can constitute a leakage pathway for reservoir gases, including injected CO2. The safest course of action would be to avoid the oldest of these oil fields, such as those in the northwestern counties (especially Venango, Warren, and McKean), because those areas contain large numbers of oil wells drilled in the late 19th century for which no completion records currently remain.” (see figure below) Today, the estimated number of abandoned wells is at least three times higher than the 2009 estimate. Some current estimates are closer to six times higher. Many are undocumented and may never be found.

The fact that Pennsylvania is considering carbon sequestration at all has not been explained. The Grand Jury report on fracking issued in 2020 states, regarding injection wells, “The fact that Pennsylvania’s geology is not conducive to these wells means they are not a viable local option to the fracking industry’s wastewater problem.” The Grand Jury was referring to Class II underground injection wells used for oil and gas waste, but there is no reason to think that Class VI wells are better suited to our geology.

Disposal of CO2 waste creates a second waste stream

Pore space is filled with brine that must be removed to make room for CO2. In other words, disposal of CO2 waste means disposal of the brine extracted. That means more injection wells. 

This comes at a time of unprecedented opposition to injection wells in Pennsylvania. In March, Fayette County Commissioners voted unanimously to restrict injection well development. Representative Charity Grimm Krupa (R-Fayette) introduced legislation to prohibit the approval or permitting of any injection wells in the state.

CCS infrastructure threatens health and safety

The movement of CO2 and displaced brine requires additional pipeline infrastructure. In 2021, investigative journalist Dan Zegart told the story of a CO2 pipeline disaster in Satartia, Mississippi the previous year that sent 49 people to the hospital. Some of them have never recovered from their injuries. 

Zegart explained, “Carbon dioxide is an asphyxiant that displaces ambient oxygen, making it more difficult to breathe. Smaller exposures cause coughing, dizziness and a panicky feeling called ‘air hunger.’” Longer exposures can lead to coma or death.

Accufacts explained in a 2022 report commissioned by the Pipeline Safety Trust, “Running ductile fractures are unusual and particularly dangerous fractures that can “unzip” a CO2 transmission pipeline for extended distances exposing great lengths of the buried pipeline. These extreme rupture forces throw tons of pipe, pipe shrapnel, and ground covering, generating large craters along the failed pipeline. It is well known that CO2 pipelines operating in dense phase, either supercritical or as a liquid, are particularly susceptible to such running ductile fractures.”

In its AR6 Synthesis Report, Section 4.5, from March 2023, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that CCS would account for only 2.4% of CO2 mitigation by 2030 if implemented at its full potential. To date, no CCS project has ever come close to meeting its targets. Pennsylvania and the planet stand to lose much more than they will ever gain if the state opens the door to carbon capture and storage. We believe that when you take the time to look at the issues we have presented here, you will agree that carbon capture and storage has no place in Pennsylvania.

We ask that this statement be added into any and all bill packages for consideration.

Respectfully,

Organizational signers

Karen Feridun, Co-founder, Better Path Coalition

Kate Fissell, 350 Pittsburgh
Nikole Nesby, Environmental Justice Organizer, 412 Justice

Maryellen Deckard, ANEW Community Institute

Peggy Berry, Executive Director, Between the Waters

Rebecca Roter, Chairperson, Breathe Easy Susquehanna County

Sharon Furlong, Co-Founder, Spokesperson, Bucks Environmental Action

Sarah Martik, Executive Director, Center for Coalfield Justice

Alex Bomstein, Executive Director, Clean Air Council

Sandy Field, Chair, Climate Reality Project: Susquehanna Valley PA Chapter

B. Arrindell, Director, Damascus Citizens for Sustainability

Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network

Raymond Kemble, Dimock Environmental Research Center

Megan McDonough, Pennsylvania Director, Food & Water Watch

Shannon Smith, Executive Director, FracTracker Alliance

Maya van Rossum, Founder, Green Amendments For The Generations

Michael Sauers, Writer/Editor, Greenfire Coalition Writers’ Forum

Patrick Campbell, Executive Director, Group Against Smog & Pollution

Ann Pinca, Lebanon Pipeline Awareness

Michael Bagdes-Canning, Co-Founder /Planning Group Member, Marcellus Outreach Butler

Michael Pollack, Executive Director, March on Harrisburg

Ashley Funk, Executive Director, Mountain Watershed Association

Tamela Trussell, Move Past Plastic

Jay Notartomaso, Founder, NEPA Green Coalition

Karen Elias, Co-Founder, No False Solutions PA

Edith Abeyta, Co-founder, North Braddock Residents For Our Future

Craig Stevens, Founder, Patriots From The Oil & Gas Shales

Michael Bagdes-Canning, Co-Founder / Steering Committee, Pennsylvania Action on Climate

Jenny Lisak, Co-Director, Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Water and Air

Dianne Peterson, Pittsburghers Against Single Use Plastic (PA SUP)

Tonyehn Verkitus, Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania

Barbara Jarmoska, President, Project CoffeeHouse

Gillian Graber, Executive Director, Protect PT (Penn-Trafford)

Maren Cooke, Director, Putting Down Roots

Michael Schroeder, Quittipahilla Watershed Association

Jesse Turri, President, Responsible Decarbonization Alliance

Barbara Laxon, Associate, Save Our Streams PA

Sandy Field, Chair, Save our Susquehanna

Faith Zerbe, Co-founder, Schuylkill Pipeline Awareness

Doug Mason, Chair, Sierra Club Moshannon Group

Barbara W. Brandom, MD, Steering Committee Member, TIAA-Divest!

Rachel Mark, UU Justice PA

Lora Snyder, Co-founder, WaSEPA

Jan Milburn, President, Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens Group

 

Individual signers

Nancy Adams, Jefferson County

Halla Baker, Chester County

Terrie Baumgardner, Beaver County

Elizabeth Cates, Berks County

Janet Cavallo, Delaware County

Pennie Christie, Jefferson County

Barbara Clifford, Susquehanna County

Mary Ann Demi, Mifflin County

Chris DiGiulio, Chester County

Lois Drumheller, Allegheny County

Sarah Flanders, MD, Allegheny County

Hilary Flint, Beaver County

Ellen Gerhart, Huntingdon County

Karen Granche, Elk County

Joe Guthrie, Allegheny County

Lou Hancherick, Butler County

Sandy Hartzell, Hundredfold Farm, Adams County

Helen Hazi, Allegheny County

Aaron Henderson, Allegheny County

Marci Henzi, Allegheny County

Nora Johnson, Allegheny County

Dawn Kane, Montgomery County

Kathleen Krebs, RN (retired), Allegheny

Susan Krotec, Allegheny County

Barbara Laxon, McKean County

Marcia Lehman, Beaver County

Cat Lodge, Washington County

Kevin Long, Perry County

Sharon Lynch, Beaver County

Libby Madarasz, Chester County

Dean Marshall Clinton County

John McDermott, Philadelphia County

Clair McKnight, Delaware County

Tom Moser, Westmoreland County

Eric Moss, Montgomery County

Helen Ortmann, Allegheny County

Marta Pelusi, Allegheny County

L. Ray Roberts, Allegheny County

Jim Rosenberg, Fayette County

Jill Schneider, Northampton County

Peggy Slota, Allegheny County

Jay Sweeney, Wyoming County

Victoria Sweitzer, Susquehanna County

Priscilla Taylor-Williams, Delaware County

Chie Togami, Dauphin County

Shirley Wagner, Schuylkill County

Elissa Weiss, M.D., Allegheny County

Jessica Wilson, Susquehanna County

Carolyn Balzer, Seneca County, NY

Sherri Deal-Tyne, Johnson County, IA

Kathy Smachlo, Cuyahoga County, OH

Cc:         Members of the PA Senate

                Governor Josh Shapiro

                Camila Horst

                Rich Pronesti

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