Capturing and storing CO2 is safe, proven, spurs jobs and helps environment

John Diez, Leroy Sullivan

Ascension Parish residents are lucky that our industrial partners are seizing the opportunity to improve our environment and boost our local economy by embracing the emissions-fighting and job-creating value that carbon capture and storage brings to the table. 

For those new to carbon capture and storage, also known as CCS, here’s a primer.

In a file photo, Ascension Parish Chief Administrative Officer John Diez speaks during the Ascension Listens tour.

What is CO2? CO2 can be found in every carbonated drink, from a Diet Coke to Sprite. It is what we exhale when we breathe. It is non-toxic and non-flammable. However, when released into the atmosphere from vehicles, agriculture and the manufacturing of products we use every day, such as; steel, cement and cleaning products, CO2 becomes a greenhouse gas.  

What is carbon capture? Carbon capture is a process that traps CO2 before it enters the atmosphere and stores it safely underground for centuries. The technology is proven, having been first successfully carried out in the late 1970s, and it is safe because it relies on the expertise of geologists and engineers. 

Some communities have rightfully raised questions about the process and the desire to have more information. This strikes us as a sensible idea. It is incumbent upon industry to meet with citizens and fill in any knowledge gaps – after all, most of us aren’t scientists.  

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan share a laugh while shaking hands Oct. 21, 2022 on the Mississippi River levee top in Donaldsonville.

Ascension Parish welcomes this dialogue and looks forward to working with industry partners to help ensure that everyone in Louisiana can fully embrace this latest business and environmental opportunity. In our view, without robust CCS, Louisiana’s businesses will not be able to thrive going forward, jobs will suffer and our economy will take a hit. Just as importantly, CCS will put Louisiana at the forefront of an environmentally friendly clean energy economy. 

CCS promises to be an enormous benefit to ALL of our communities. Our parish leaders are banding together in meaningful partnerships to directly combat poverty, close the achievement gap and reduce crime.

For instance, CF Industries pledged $1 million toward an early childhood-development center in Donaldsonville.

Ascension Clean Energy has pledged to hire 10% of its workforce from among people now living below the poverty level, and it will help train employees to obtain better paying jobs. Most recently, VerdeCO2 has engaged local elected officials and River Parish Community College Chancellor, Quintin Taylor, in regards to building a vocational training facility in the Donaldsonville area.  

How rewarding this will be, since we know that career success starts in the home when parents have the right tools to support their children and there is a clear path from cradle to career.

These values – business, environment and community development – matter.

The fact is that CCS will extend the life of the plants which employ so many in our community - manufacturing steel, cement, chemicals and agricultural and other products by capturing and storing their emissions. The end result is that CCS extends and protects jobs – and cleans our air.

Frankly, carbon capture and storage is a path to the future. It improves the environment; it’s safe, dependable, and proven; and it creates jobs and benefits all communities. 

Working together as we’re doing, the benefits of clean energy and CCS won’t just be felt in the air we breathe. It also will be felt in the lives it helps to change.

John Diez serves as the Chief Administrative Officer of Ascension Parish, and Leroy Sullivan serves as Mayor of Donaldsonville.