Climate Justice Leaders Denounce Carbon Capture and Storage Plans as Scams, Warn Reliance on Unproven Technology Exacerbates Climate Change and Environmental Injustices - Climate Justice Alliance

National Network of Environmental and Community Groups Urges the Biden Administration to stop promoting CCS and support real community led solutions.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, June 14, 2023
CONTACT: Anya Silverman-Stoloff | [email protected]

Phoenix, AZ – Yesterday, members of the Climate Justice Alliance denounced carbon capture and storage in a comment period at the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) meeting. The WHEJAC meeting was held in Phoenix, AZ, and is the first of three meetings this week offering a space for the public to comment on a range of issues concerning the WHEJAC’s environmental justice mission.

Ozawa Bineshi Albert, co-executive director of the Climate Justice Alliance, testified in person, saying: 

“We are tired of unproven methods and untested technology that is diverting valuable time and funds that we can no longer afford. We call on the WHEJAC and the Biden Administration to listen to our communities, name the dangers, and end this effort to push CCS/CCUS and other carbon scams that are delaying transition towards proven and sustainable solutions and putting our communities’ lives on the line once again.”

Other members of the Climate Justice Alliance attended the meeting in person, and also provided public comment. 

Alejandria Lyons, Coalition Coordinator of New Mexico No False Solution Coalition  from Albuquerque, New Mexico  explained: 

“The development of a hydrogen economy will not resolve our reliance on fossil fuels. The WISHH project, and other large scale hydrogen hubs, will create a public safety crisis. It has been the work of climate justice groups across the US to highlight this issue of over-funding and under-researched technology. In New Mexico, we are spending most of our time debunking the myths around  hydrogen  rather than focusing our efforts on  building a regenerative economy with these federal funds.”

Chloe Desir, Environmental Justice Organizer,  Ironbound Community Corporation from New Jersey added: 

“I’m here to urge the WHEJAC to stop  the possible extension of the life of fossil fuels through the use of CCUS, which actually prevents climate mitigation. As someone who lives and works in an environmental justice community,  we need viable and sustainable solutions including investing in green infrastructure instead of fossil fuel projects that use methods such as carbon capture storage.”

Soni Grant, Campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity from Santa Fe, New Mexico  said: 

“It’s unacceptable that the Biden Administration and states like New Mexico are promoting hydrogen and carbon capture, which will only increase oil and gas extraction at a time when the climate emergency demands the opposite. Hydrogen is another bait and switch from an administration that continues to break its promises to aggressively tackle climate change and help communities achieve a just, equitable transition to renewable energy.”

Kiara Pereira, Just Transition Organizer with Urban Tilth in Richmond, CA. 

“An overreliance on hydrogen projects by the Biden Administration cannot continue. It leaves frontline communities [like mine] vulnerable and silenced in the discussion of moving away from fossil fuels.”

There is broad consensus among key stakeholders that carbon capture and storage is unproven, will not get us to key climate targets, and will exacerbate environmental injustice concerns while prolonging reliance on broken fossil fuel infrastructure.

The dangers of CCUS and disproportionate impacts to marginalized communities have been widely documented:

  • A study in the European Union showed that adding Carbon Capture to power plants increased Nitrogen Oxides by 44%, particulate matter by 33%, and ammonia by a whopping 30 fold increase. CCUS projects will exacerbate environmental disparities and lead to more environmental racism.
  • CCUS means business as usual for polluters. By design, CCUS allows corporations to keep extracting and burning fossil fuels. It does nothing to address the devastating impacts of fossil fuel extraction. BP, an oil company with billions in revenue, has stated that CCS will “enable the full use of fossil fuels across the energy transition and beyond.”  Black, Indigenous, and People of Color will continue to carry the burdens of industry in the name of “decarbonization.”
  • CCUS projects have failed time and again to provide any benefits to communities or to the climate. The Department of Energy (DOE) wasted $195 million dollars into Petra Nova, a project that aimed to capture carbon emission from a coal plant. This project ran into multiple technical difficulties and could barely stay consistently operational while failing to capture CO2 at its promised rate. DOE never made public any data to verify capture rates! Moreover some of the CO2 capture was used to extract more oil via Enhanced Oil Recovery. Most CCUS projects in the United States are used to extract more oil!!

The Climate Justice Alliance urges the Biden Administration to:

  1. Immediately pivot away from CCS/CCUS as a core greenhouse gas emission reduction strategy, including in the proposed rule for fossil fuel fired power plants.
  2. Put an end to permitting of new fossil fuel infrastructure and rapid phase out of current polluting infrastructure.
  3. Ensure incentives, grantmaking, and interagency coordination to support  community-based decentralized renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other climate-friendly policies and practices across issues areas.
  4. Support research, development, and implementation programs on recycling and reuse of materials to reduce the need for production of steel, cement, etc., and on non-combustion heat sources for process heat for hard to decarbonize industries.

Ahead of the meeting, a diverse set of environmental justice leaders, including Maria Lopez Nunez and Sharon Lewis, current and former Board members of the Climate Justice Alliance respectively, signed onto a statement denouncing carbon capture and storage plans. 

“There is no regulatory regime at any level of government – local, state or federal – that can protect environmental justice communities from the cumulative risks and dangers associated with industrial carbon management like CCS. [Furthermore]…proponents of CCS/CCUS, DAC, and hydrogen fail to acknowledge the known and potential hazards for communities as well as operation failures that increase climate risks. The hazards, risks, and uncertainties of large-scale deployment of industrial carbon removal strategies should not be hidden, ignored or dismissed, but should be clearly identified, defined, and made known as public information.”

The Climate Justice Alliance affirms the concerns outlined with CCS programs at nearly every stage of development – and echoes IPPC chair Hoesung Lee comments that CCS is “no free lunch” and overreliance on the technology would likely mean the world misses the 1.5C warming target.  

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