Democrats At Odds With Biden On His ‘Carbon Capture’ Scheme That Requires Miles Of CO2 Pipelines — One That Burst Described As ‘Apocalypse’ In Mississippi Town


(The Defender) Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Chuy Garcia (D-Ill.) led a group of House Democrats on Tuesday in urging President Joe Biden to put a moratorium on federal permitting for new carbon dioxide (CO2) pipelines — infrastructure at the center of unproven carbon capture efforts — until robust safety regulations are finalized, warning that the current regulatory vacuum is a serious threat to public health.

“As an invisible and odorless asphyxiant, CO2 spewing from a ruptured pipeline can suffocate humans and animals without notice,” Omar, Garcia and 11 other lawmakers wrote in a letter to Biden.


The letter continues:

“Transporting CO2 under the extremely high pressure required to maintain a supercritical fluid state can cause ruptures that ‘unzip’ a pipeline over long distances, allowing CO2 to escape before the flow can be stopped.”

The House Democrats called on the president to use his executive authority to place a moratorium on federal CO2 pipeline permits until the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) completes work on safety regulations that the agency announced last year.

The lawmakers noted that “current regulations do not cover pipelines transporting CO2 as a gas or subcritical liquid, and are tailored to address the transport of hydrocarbon hazardous liquids, such as crude oil and refined petroleum products, which carry vastly different safety risks.”

There are currently around 5,000 miles of CO2 pipelines in the U.S., according to the PHMSA, and analysts say that most of the existing pipelines are used for enhanced oil recovery — a process thatinvolves pumping captured CO2 into oil wells in an effort to produce more oil.

But the Biden administration is pushing for an expansion of CO2 pipelines as part of what climate advocates say is a misguided and irresponsible buildout of carbon capture and storage infrastructure that’s supported by the fossil fuel industry.

The bipartisan infrastructure law that Biden signed in 2021 boosts a tax credit that will incentivizethe proliferation of CO2 pipelines, which have prompted major safety concerns and oppositionfrom local communities.

Jesse Jenkins, a professor of engineering at Princeton University, told NPR that the U.S. could have more than 65,000 miles of CO2 pipelines within the next few decades.

The Democratic lawmakers point to NPR’s reporting in their letter, writing that their concerns about the safety of the CO2 infrastructure “are exemplified by the 2020 rupture of a pipeline, operated by Denbury Gulf Coast Pipelines, transporting CO2 in Satartia, Mississippi.”

Earlier this year, NPR documented the harrowing experience of Satartia residents impacted by the rupture. One emergency worker said the terrifying scene “looked like you were going through the zombie apocalypse.”



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