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Landowners find compromise in bill on carbon storage pilot program, safety concerns remain

A diagram of different types of carbon sequestration. Environmental groups are concerned that leaking CO2 emissions from injecting CO2 underground could pollute drinking water sources, suffocate residents and animals, or cause earthquakes.
LeJean Hardin and Jamie Payne
/
Wikimedia Commons
A diagram of different types of carbon sequestration. Environmental groups are concerned that leaking CO2 emissions from injecting CO2 underground could pollute drinking water sources, suffocate residents and animals, or cause earthquakes.

A bill that aims to help get a state pilot program on carbon sequestration going passed the state House on Tuesday. It now includes more rights for landowners and a strict deadline.

The amended bill, Senate Bill 451, addresses at least some of the concerns that farmers and landowners had with Wabash Valley Resources storing its carbon emissions under their land.

They still can’t opt out of the project. But instead of a one-time payment of at least $250 per acre, they would get an annual payout of 40 percent of the average cash rent in Indiana based on an annual Purdue survey.

That works out to about $100 per acre every year for the life of the project, said Jeff Cummins with the Indiana Farm Bureau. He said when a similar bill was proposed last year, landowners weren’t even guaranteed payment and couldn’t sue if something went wrong with the project.

“So we’ve really made leaps and bounds in terms of the changes from one year to the next and even a couple of weeks to now," Cummins said.

READ MORE: Bill on carbon capture pilot program divides Indiana lawmakers, narrowly passes Senate

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Environmental groups are concerned that leaking CO2 emissions from carbon capture and storage projects could pollute drinking water sources, suffocate residents and animals, or cause earthquakes.

Lawmakers approved the pilot project with Wabash Valley Resources about four years ago. If the company can’t get a federal permit in five years, the bill would kill the pilot.

Rebecca is our energy and environment reporter. Contact her at rthiele@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

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Rebecca Thiele covers statewide environment and energy issues.