Louisiana alone has 4,500 abandoned wells and more than 21,000 inactive wells. Nationwide, there could be as many as 3 million such wells. (Steve Hillebrand/USFWS/Creative Commons)
Generous federal tax credits are driving the onrush of carbon capture and storage projects being proposed in the U.S. But like a game of whack-a-mole, there’s a chance the planet-warming emissions could seep back up into the atmosphere after they are injected underground.
How? Through any one of the thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells throughout the country. Louisiana alone has 4,500 abandoned wells and more than 21,000 inactive wells. Nationwide, there could be as many as 3 million such wells. Despite the numerous “holes” in the ground, companies including Occidental Petroleum, Denbury and Blue Sky are rushing to purchase the underground spaces, generally deep underground, and sometimes in the spaces that once held oil and gas.
The idea behind carbon capture and storage is to take carbon that would have otherwise gone up into the atmosphere and store it underground.
So far, more than two dozen storage sites in Louisiana are publicly known, including the most controversial, under Lake Maurepas.
“Those wells are like straws in the marsh,” said Alex Kolker, Louisiana coastal geologist at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. “It’s a conduit for carbon dioxide to reach the surface.
During that period, FPL secretly pumped more than $14 million into a network of dark money groups, which ultimately steered millions into supporting steeper requirements for ballot initiatives. It paid more than $6.8 million to two powerful trade organizations, The Florida Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Florida, which have been the loudest critics of ballot initiatives. And it has heaped at least $3.4 million in campaign donations onto key legislators who proposed or greenlit restrictive laws, according to an analysis of Florida campaign finance data.