Pfaff requests longer EPA public comment period for carbon sequestration project

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Last Friday (Aug. 11), the period for public comment to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ended regarding the permits requested by Wabash Valley Resources LLC to install underground injection wells to hold carbon dioxide. The project is part of a carbon sequestration pilot program authorized by the General Assembly this past legislative session. 

In light of residents’ concerns and communications to her office, Rep. Tonya Pfaff (D-Terre Haute) has sent a letter to the EPA urging them to extend the comment period for 30 additional days to give the community ample time to understand the impact of the project and give their input.

“All parties, the legislature, IDEM, EPA and Wabash Valley Resources, have failed the residents of this area by not adequately explaining the risks and rewards of the carbon sequestration project,” Pfaff wrote to EPA Administrator Michael Regan. “For five years, this legislation was considered and reconsidered by the Indiana General Assembly, of which I am an elected representative.

“The legislation finally passed due to bipartisan consensus that it was fair to farmers, would provide Hoosier agriculture with a domestic source of fertilizer, create hundreds of union trades construction jobs, and continuing good paying jobs for the residents of west central Indiana. However, the risks and rewards of carbon sequestration were never adequately explained to the hundreds of residents whose lives and property might be affected. Consequently, rumors filled the vacuum once a hearing was announced.

“So far, the process has been a model of how not to engage the public in a transparent and meaningful manner. The announcement of the hearing itself was inadequate and only because of the involvement of a few residents who were notified was the initial hearing well attended. Wabash Valley Resources has indicated that they are willing to answer any questions, but that opportunity will not be useful as the current comment deadline ended effective Aug. 11, 2023.”

Pfaff has requested that the EPA extend its public comment period to Sept. 11, with experts from IDEM, the EPA and Wabash Valley Resources present at public sessions to explain the project and take public comment. Wabash Valley Resources has scheduled town halls for Wednesday, Aug. 16 and Tuesday, Aug. 22 on the topic, but given the end of the EPA public comment period, it lacks full impact for residents.

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