Two documents—a class VI well permit and a draft Environmental Impact Report—would allow a Carbon Capture and Storage project in Kern County to dump 48 million tons of CO2 underground in the Elk Hills oil field.
EPA Region 9 released a draft class VI well permit for the injection well that the project would need to dump the carbon waste underground. The comment deadline for the injection well is March 20. The draft class VI permit from EPA Region 9 is here.
EPA will accept comments in writing through the end of the comment period on March 20, 2024 (40 CFR § 124.10). During this period, EPA encourages the electronic submittal of comments online at www.regulations.gov under docket number EPA-R09-OW-2023-0623. You may also submit comments by email to Elise Nord at firstname.lastname@example.org; call (415) 972-3079 with any questions.
We can stop this project!
Information on the injection wells, and a full list of the in-person Kern County public workshops and hearing can be found here: https://www.epa.gov/publicnotices/intent-issue-class-vi-underground-injection-control-permits-carbon-terravault-jv
Continued oil drilling worsens air quality and harms public health. Adding CCS capture technology could extend the life of the oil drilling that the Elk Hills plant powers. Oil and gas production generates toxic air pollutants such as fine particulate matter (PM2.5) which causes an estimated 1200 premature deaths in the Valley every year. PM2.5 is also linked to heart disease and stroke, and they worsen asthma.
The CCS project is unsafe for nearby communities. It will store 40-50 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) near Buttonwillow. If this CO2 leaks, it could cause suffocation and death. A CO2 pipeline leak in Mississippi lead to the hospitalization of hundreds of people living in a town about half a mile away. And Buttonwillow is in a remote area. If there is a pipeline leak, residents would have to make a long journey to get to a hospital.
If a CO2 leak comes into contact with groundwater, the water can be contaminated because CO2 reacts chemically with water to become more acidic, so contaminants dissolve into it. Injecting CO2 underground can also trigger earthquakes.
CCS is not a climate solution. It regularly fails to live up to its promises. For example in Australia, Chevron promised its CCS project would capture 80% of CO2 emissions but captured less than half—only 30%. A Canadian CCS plant actually emitted more greenhouse gases than it captured. The uncaptured CO2 is emitted into the air, making the climate crisis worse. The project also won’t capture emissions from sourcing, transporting and storing the CO2, and those emissions add up.
The project is a major financial risk. The project promises that it will store the captured carbon permanently. But the project owner, California Resources Corporation, has already filed for bankruptcy once, in 2020. There is a risk that the company could file for bankruptcy again, leaving environmental cleanup bills to taxpayers.
Kern County released a draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the project, with a comment deadline of February 12 at 5 PM. You can find the Kern County EIR here.
Written comments may be submitted to :
Kern County Planning and Natural Resources Department
ATTN: Keith Alvidrez, Planner II
2700 “M” Street, Suite 100, Bakersfield, CA 93301
Phone: (661) 862-5015
Or email: CTV1EIRComments@kerncounty.com