• Louisiana spews more industrial carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than any other state in the nation (roughly 36 million metric tons of CO2). A study released last month by NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy found that the Bayou State surpassed refinery-rich Texas in 2002.
• As Congress crows about foreign energy dependence, various calculations place more than 1 trillion barrels of oil still under ground domestically, leftover from drilling and missed by conventional efforts. Back home, the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association estimates that local oilmen are forced to leave roughly 70 percent of their black gold in the dirt because most operations aren’t that efficient.
On the page, these two nuggets of information don’t have much in common. But thanks to advancements in oil exploration during the past decade, CO2 and increased production are more intertwined than ever.
Lobbyists and lawmakers say there’s going to be a focus in the spring regular session on tertiary recovery projects, or what are more commonly known as enhanced oil recoveries. The process involves the injection of certain gases or chemicals — in Louisiana’s case, carbon dioxide — into a reservoir, at which point it expands and pushes up the oil that was missed by a previous operation.
While a small package of bills is expected, at least one has already been pre-filed. Senate Bill 10 would eliminate the sales and use tax on any carbon dioxide sold for enhanced oil recovery project, just as long as the project has been approved by the state Department of Natural Resources.
Sen. Reggie Dupre, a Terrebonne Parish Democrat and chairman of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, says the state wants to encourage producers to use the emerging gas application, which his bill would do. “This is a way the state can regenerate some of these older sites,” Dupre says. “And it will also put Louisiana ahead of the curve.”
There are very few working examples in the southern United States, and Canada only recently saw its first oilfield established using the technique. Even Texas, Louisiana’s energy-competitor to the west, has yet to adopt a similar law.
Yet there are strides to point out already in Louisiana. For instance, Denbury Onshore LLC is installing a 24-inch pipeline originating from Donaldsonville. It’s a real Louisiana success story when it comes to economic development, but as often happens, it takes a twist. The pipeline will lead to the Hastings Field, just south of Houston, where Texas will reap the benefits of the recovered oil.
Still, there are opportunities back home as well. Denbury has entered into agreements to purchase man-made CO2 from four proposed “coal to liquid” plants, like the planned Faustina Plant near Donaldsonville.
Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, says he can see a day where operations like this are sprouting up all over the Bayou State. Louisiana plants would actually capture carbon dioxide before it enters the atmosphere and run it directly to an oil site. “That’s the ‘green’ element in all of this,” Briggs says. “Everyone is complaining about CO2 emissions, but this would give companies a reason to capture it before it gets into the environment.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was established by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations’ Environment Program, has also endorsed the use of CO2 in declining oilfields as a means to reducing greenhouse-based emissions. Nonetheless, questions still remain as to whether the CO2 will stay in the ground and further studies could turn the technology on its head.
For now, though, there’s nothing but green lights. Depending on the price of oil and other market conditions, the U.S. Department of Energy has estimated that enhanced oil recoveries that utilize carbon dioxide could generate an additional 240 billion barrels or more.
This could be the great compromise of 2009 for oilmen and environmentalists. While drilling will not end by next year, more CO2 operations could be open by then — increasing domestic supply, pumping money into the state’s coffers, creating new jobs and cutting Louisiana’s greenhouse gas emissions. All simultaneously.
In the meantime, the conversation with Congress can continue unfettered as to why Americans need alternative fuel as desperately as the Saints need secondary help.
MAY 23 Here's a story in the Picayune about some statistics that must come as a blow to folks who believe that any private school can do a better job of educating kids than any public school: Danielle Dreilinger reports that only 30 percent of the voucher kids are passing. That's less than half of the state wide average, she says. It's an interesting statistic because most of the schools (if not all) taking voucher kids have never had their students' standardized test scores released to the public before.
MAY 23 Stephen Sabludowsky blogs on Bayou Buzz about auditor requests here. Recently the state GOP started crowing about a request from the Legislative Auditor, claiming they were being targeted because of their anti-tax stance. (Uh, your what?) Denial and hyperbole aside, the state Democratic party blew holes in that theory with an email announcing they'd received the same request, Sabludowsky writes here.
MAY 23 Jim Brown blogs about the senate race in this post. He says that, given Bobby Jindal's "lack of traction" on the national stage, it might make more sense for the governor to consider running against Mary Landrieu for the senate seat. Since Tim Teeple left the Cassidy team, it makes sense he might land on a Jindal for Senate team, Brown opines.
MAY 23 In this Louisiana Voice post, blogger Tom Aswell writes of rumors that his nemesis, state Superintendent of Education John White, may be soon departing Louisiana for a federal post. It's hard to believe, given his performance, Aswell says, but stranger things have happened. An anti-White BESE member says that, if true, White is quitting before he can be fired.
MAY 23 In this post on American Zombie, blogger Jason Berry writes about the Mother's Day shooting. Mayor Landrieu said that "this is not who we are," but the fact is, this is New Orleans, Berry writes. The violence infused in the city is the result of a culture created by "sins of omission or sins of commission," Berry writes. It's not a problem that can be solved by legislating, policing, praying or publicizing, he says: Someone's got to understand what's happening first.
MAY 23 This post in the Westside Journal tells us what Port Allen Mayor Deedy has been up to lately: vetoing ordinances, apparently. This story is most interesting, however, when it delves into a petition that has been circulating around the city lately. It accuses the former mayor of a lot of nasty things; the former mayor says it is full of lies and "broken syntax" which may be a larger offense in his eyes.
MAY 23 This editorial posted in The Advocate is a bit confusing. The writing is poor - definitely not up to the usual editorial writing standard there - and the point is hard to grasp. Apparently, the writer is saying that privatization of state efforts is OK, as long as there is oversight and transparency, but Jindal's not good at that, and the legislature shouldn't over-react. Okey Dokey. Can't they get one of them Pulitzer-winning people to write an editorial?
MAY 23 This post on The Lens gives you links to a new Google Earth tool that allows you to see any spot on earth transform over the past 30 years. Bob Marshall, who covers the coast for the paper, says that in the case of Louisiana's coastline, it's possibly something you don't want to see, because it's not a pretty picture. There are several clips here, showing critical areas erode away. For Marshall, it was vindication for all those times he was met with eye-rolling when he talked about erosion.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.