By Charles Fridge
The Beaumont Enterprise, Mar. 28, 2023
The story of Texas is incomplete without talking about the natural bounties lying underground that shaped our state’s destiny, employed millions over decades and helped fundamentally transform modern life. Just as the geology blessed Texas with oil and natural gas, it has blessed many parts of the state including Southeast Texas with the ideal underground characteristics needed to help decarbonize the world.
The opportunity is right here, under our feet. That’s something I learned after years of running an oil and gas company, and then when I founded a company to capture carbon and store it underground. Southeast Texas, especially Chambers, Harris, Jefferson and Liberty counties, is poised to benefit from carbon capture.
Decarbonizing our essential industries – from manufacturing to petrochemicals — is becoming more essential by the day. Simply doing what all these industries are doing today will require this know-how to continue operations in the future. And there are thousands of Texans who brought oil and gas out of the Earth safely who have the expertise to safely, securely and permanently store these carbon dioxide emissions.
Here’s why. The technology to capture carbon before it enters the atmosphere and then store it underground, usually referred to by its acronym, CCS, was pioneered here in Texas in the late 1970s. It is a proven technology that is especially valuable now when used as a tool to decarbonize the environment and it can be deployed at scale and quickly.
Texas is seeking the right to permit its own CCS injection wells from the Environmental Protection Agency, which will advance the industry faster and make environmental achievements possible more quickly.
Southeast Texas is not only geologically ideal, it is commercially and environmentally ideal because so many essential industries call this area home. These are the companies that want to keep operating and grow while reducing their emissions. CCS offers the way.
Understandably, many have questions about CCS; and a few vocal activist groups that thrive on fearmongering are adding confusion and misinformation to the mix.
Here’s a quick primer on CCS to help answer. First, any factory or company that makes something we need and use every day creates a carbon footprint. These same facilities have made Texas an economic powerhouse and jobs generator. New federal regulations and market demand now make it essential that this carbon be captured and stored, and the ability of companies to keep operating, growing and employing thousands of Texan workers will depend on successful decarbonization.
CCS offers the tool to remove emissions now, and scientists, engineers, government regulators and savvy entrepreneurs are working strenuously to deploy this existing technology to capture industrial carbon dioxide (CO2). CCS captures CO2 at the source and transports it to underground rock formations geologically suited for storing it safely and permanently deep in the earth.
It enters tiny holes in the solid rock where it can be safely stored, just as oil and gas were sealed in there. Geologic formations suitable for storage include depleted oil and gas fields, deep coal seams and saline formations. The Energy Department estimates than 1,800 billion to 20,000 billion metric tons of CO2 could be stored underground in the U.S. That’s equivalent to 600 to 6,700 years of current-level emissions from large stationary sources in our country.
Working together with my company, landowners, the local workforce, and local governments, industrial companies — especially those in Chambers, Harris, Jefferson and Liberty counties – will be able to benefit from storing CO2 emissions safely in many ways including financially, through jobs and certainly through cleaner air.
It’s time for Texas to write its next chapter in shaping the future. We’ve done it before, and we’re going to do it again.
Charles Fridge is chairman and CEO of Verde CO2, an independent carbon capture and storage developer-operator he founded.
Originally posted on Beaumont Enterprise.