May 7, 2019

Governor Weighs Carbon Dioxide Storage Measure

Indiana Statehouse - FILE PHOTO: Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Indiana Statehouse

FILE PHOTO: Lauren Chapman/IPB News

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — A company could proceed with its plans to store as much as 50 million metric tons of carbon dioxide underground in western Indiana under a bill that state legislators approved.

The carbon dioxide storage is part of a $450 million project proposed by Wabash Valley Resources LLC for a plant near Terre Haute producing anhydrous ammonia fertilizer. The project would convert a closed SG Solutions coal gasification plant and would pump the carbon dioxide produced underground instead of releasing the greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, the (Terre Haute) Tribune-Star reported.

The bill approved by lawmakers last month restricts such carbon storage in Indiana to that site and calls for a special legislative committee to review the process.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb has until Wednesday to decide whether to sign the bill into law. He said last week that he was closely reviewing the bill and another proposal that would legalize sports betting and allow new casinos in Terre Haute and Gary.

"I need to learn more about them," Holcomb said. "They are big, major, good economic development bills but I want to make sure I read them for myself."

The project would still need a federal Environmental Protection Agency permit, so little work is expected to happen for some time. The permitting process took three years for a similar project near Decatur, Illinois.

Kerwin Olson, executive director of the Citizens Action Coalition, said he was glad the final bill focused strictly on the Terre Haute proposal as a pilot project. Some versions of the measure would have "blindly" opened the entire state to carbon storage "without understanding precisely what we were doing," he said.

The final version restricts carbon storage to the pilot site. It also allows use of eminent domain only after gaining consent from owners of 60 percent of the property needed for injecting carbon dioxide into underground rock formations.

Nalin Gupta, managing partner with Wabash Valley Resources, said the state legislation supports federal carbon capture initiatives.

"Such efforts advance the pressing need to reduce global green-house gas emissions," Gupta said in a statement. "In addition, Indiana farmers will derive the benefits of purchasing a locally manufactured and affordable green fertilizer, reducing the need for costly foreign imports."

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