The Louisiana Legislature adopted the Geologic Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide Act in 2009. Recent policy changes at the federal level have drawn increasing attention to the Act’s provisions regarding the permits needed to operate a carbon dioxide storage facility in Louisiana.

The Act grants jurisdiction over the permitting process to the Commissioner of Conservation.[1] It requires that the Commissioner hold a public hearing to obtain evidence regarding the suitability of a particular underground reservoir for carbon dioxide storage.  Before permitting use of a reservoir for carbon dioxide storage, the Commissioner must find that the reservoir is not capable of producing oil, gas, condensate or other commercial minerals in paying quantities or that one of the following conditions applies:

  1. All owners in such reservoir or relevant part thereof have agreed to such use;
  2. The volumes of original reservoir, oil, gas, condensate, salt, or other commercial mineral therein which are capable of being produced in paying quantities have all been produced; or
  3. Such reservoir has a greater value or utility as a reservoir for carbon dioxide storage than for the production of the remaining volumes of original reservoir oil, gas, condensate, or other commercial mineral, and at least three-fourths of the owners, in interest, have consented to such use in writing.

The Commissioner must also find that use of the reservoir for the storage of carbon dioxide will not contaminate other formations containing fresh water, oil, gas, or other commercial mineral deposits and that the proposed storage will not endanger human lives or cause a hazardous condition to property.

The Act requires the Commissioner to issue a certificate of public convenience and necessity to any person applying therefor once he has made the determinations described above. The holder of such a certificate is authorized to exercise the right of eminent domain to acquire needed property including surface and subsurface rights and property interests necessary or useful for the purpose of constructing, operating, or modifying a storage facility and the necessary infrastructure including the laying, maintaining, and operating of pipelines for the transportation of carbon dioxide to a storage facility, together with utility, telegraph, and telephone lines necessary and incidental to the operation of these storage facilities and pipelines.

The operator of a carbon dioxide storage facility will also need to obtain a Class VI underground injection well permit. The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources recently adopted extensive regulations governing the issuance of such permits.[2] Those will go into effect if the EPA grants the state’s pending application for primacy over such wells under the Clean Water Act. Until that application is granted, the EPA retains jurisdiction to issue these permits.

[1] La. R.S. 30:1104

[2] 43 LAC:XVII:601 et seq.