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CCS – Public Perception and the role of NGOs

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  1. CCS – Public Perception and the role of NGOs George Peridas Natural Resources Defense Council ZERO10 23 November 2010

  2. How can we be confident in CCS? • IPCC Special Report on CCS (2005) concluded that:“Observations from engineered and natural analogues as well as models suggest that the fraction retained in appropriately selected and managed geological reservoirs is very likely to exceed 99% over 100 years and is likely to exceed 99% over 1,000 years. For well-selected, designed and managed geological storage sites, the vast majority of the CO2 will gradually be immobilized by various trapping mechanisms and, in that case, could be retained for up to millions of years. Because of these mechanisms, storage could become more secure over longer timeframes”

  3. Rationale and evidence • Natural analogues • Oil, gas, natural CO2 and brines have remained sealed in the same reservoirs for millions to 100s of millions of years • Industrial analogues • Natural gas storage • 100 years experience • Acid gas (H2S + CO2 injection) • Alberta: 50 or so locations since 1990, no safety incidents • Underground liquid waste disposal • Enhanced oil recovery • 30 years experience • ~45MtCO2/yr injected

  4. The story of a bill • AB 705 called for the development of a regulatory framework for CCS in California • Not a project enabler • Introduced March 2006 • Cleared Assembly Utilities & Commerce Committee unanimously • Local groups perform “diligence” and oppose • Turned into a “two-year” bill – not heard in Natural Resources Committee • Withdrawn 2007

  5. The context • Carson Hydrogen Power • Proposed petroleum coke gasification plant • CO2 capture and EOR • Located next to BP Carson refinery in highly populated area near Long Beach, CA • Highly impacted community – Environmental Justice hotspot • Proposed plant location made business sense to developer but was highly controversial

  6. The opposition letter • In order to be injected, the gases must be compressed into a liquid, a costly and expensive process. Once injected into the ground the gases must be carefully monitored for leakage. This is because if the gases leak out they are deadly to all living creatures since CO2 is lighter than air, and displaces air. When the gases are released they stay close to the ground, displace oxygen, and suffocate everything in its path. • Two events in the relative recent history of CO2 emissions from natural sources underscore the community health hazard created if CO2 were to escape from sequestration: The largest recent disaster caused by a large CO2 release from a lake occurred in 1986, in Cameroon, central Africa. A volcanic crater-lake known as Nyos belched bubbles of CO2 into the still night air and the gas settled around the lake's shore, where it killed 1800 people and countless thousands of animals. The 15 August 1984 gas release at Lake Monoun that killed 37 people was attributed to a rapid overturn of lake water with CO2 that had been at the bottom coming to the surface, triggered by an earthquake and landslide. The emission of around 1 cubic kilometer of CO2 devastated a local village and killed animals for miles. Source?

  7. The opposition letter • When CO2 is injected into the ground it becomes corrosive to the rock and liberates the metals that are in the ground. Concerns have been raised about these toxic chemicals affecting ground water. California relies upon its groundwater for more than 40% of its water supply. As well, CO2’s acidic nature is corrosive to the underground environment and the gases can actually eat through rock. There is clearly the potential for this captured gas to escape. A recent pilot project that injected CO2 into the subsurface in a brine filled oil reservoir liberated metals and organic chemicals as well as dissolved the rock, creating pathways through which the gas could escape. • The fossil fuel industry has shown no sign that they will are willing to bear the liability of CO2 leaks from underground storage. Presumably that cost, which would be akin to a huge natural disaster for a community should a leak occur, would be borne by taxpayers. • Piecing together schemes to inject toxic gases under the ground in environmental justice communities in order to continue reliance on fossil fuels as our energy source is just not good policy. A switch to sustainable, renewable energy and conservation is the long term solution to our global warming problem. • We oppose AB 705 and efforts to sequester toxic gases in environmental justice communities in California. We urge your “No” vote on AB 705. Frio misquoted “Liability” CCS as a diversion AB 705 ≠ Carson

  8. Are those examples representative? • Only of some regions and stakeholder segments • Southern California a special case • Nonetheless still indicative of what can happen • In the U.S. – how about Norway?! • Several similar and opposite cases: • FutureGen, Otway, Ketzin, Lacq • Beeskow, Barendrecht, Greenville

  9. Recurring opposition themes • Geoengineering • Parallels with nuclear waste/technology • Untried and untested • CO2: toxic, deadly • Lake Nyos: CO2 kills • Frio: CO2 eats through rock and escapes • A lifeline for the fossil fuel industry • Diversion of funds away from truly sustainable solutions • Kitty-litter solution

  10. U.S. DOE supported projects • In the absence of a climate bill, these are the most likely to reach completion Source: DarianGhorbi, USDOE

  11. Considerations for a project • Fait accompli or genuine consultation process? • Community is approached and develops ownership • Locals find out about the project in the press • Who is the messenger? • Scientists/experts • Corporations • Government • NGOs • Setting • Commercial project • Government science demonstration • History • Community comfortable with development • Spillover from previous but dissimilar experiences

  12. An international NGO CCS network • CCS not a mainstream issue for most NGOs • Few active in this area • General scepticism and opposition internationally • Notable exceptions in Australia, China, Europe & North America • Formal network soon to be launched • Aiming at: • Safe and effective CCS • Meaningful emission reductions • Dissemination of accurate information on the technology

  13. Contact George Peridas, PhD Natural Resources Defense Council 111 Sutter St. 20th Floor San Francisco, CA 94104 U.S.A.  415-875-6181  202-390-9453  415-989-0062 