LA - Guest column: Carbon capture is good for the environment, and the economy

Ascension Parish residents are lucky that our industrial partners are seizing the opportunity to improve our environment and boost our local economy by embracing the emissions-fighting and job-creating value that carbon capture and storage brings to the table.

For those new to carbon capture and storage, also known as CCS, here’s a primer.

Carbon dioxide can be found in every carbonated drink, from Diet Coke to Sprite. It is what we exhale when we breathe. It is nontoxic and nonflammable. However, when released into the atmosphere from vehicles, agriculture and the manufacture of products we use every day such as steel, cement and cleaning products, CO2 becomes a greenhouse gas.

Carbon capture is a process that traps CO2 before it enters the atmosphere and stores it safely underground for centuries. The technology is proven, having been first successfully carried out in the late 1970s, and it is safe because it relies on the expertise of geologists and engineers.

Some communities have rightfully raised questions about the process and the desire to have more information. This strikes us as a sensible idea. It is incumbent upon the industry to meet with citizens and fill in any knowledge gaps; after all, most of us aren’t scientists.

Ascension Parish welcomes this dialogue and looks forward to working with industry partners to help ensure that everyone in Louisiana can fully embrace this latest business and environmental opportunity. In our view, without robust CCS, Louisiana’s businesses will not be able to thrive going forward, jobs will suffer and our economy will take a hit. Just as importantly, CCS will put Louisiana at the forefront of an environmentally friendly clean energy economy.

CCS promises to be an enormous benefit to all of our communities. Our parish leaders are banding together in meaningful partnerships to directly combat poverty, close the achievement gap and reduce crime.

For instance, CF Industries pledged $1 million toward an early childhood development center in Donaldsonville. Ascension Clean Energy has pledged to hire 10% of its workforce from among people now living below the poverty level, and it will help train employees to obtain better-paying jobs. Most recently, VerdeCO2 has engaged local elected officials and River Parish Community College Chancellor Quintin Taylor about building a vocational training facility in the Donaldsonville area.

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