Top U.S. energy companies Chevron and Schlumberger have withdrawn an application to capture carbon dioxide emissions and store them deep underground in central California, a spokesman said Wednesday, stalling the clean-energy project after questioning U.S. environmental regulators.
Industrial gas burial has become a focus for energy companies that want to show investors that they are willing to help reduce emissions and fight climate change. Their permits were more than a dozen filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which requested that the application be withdrawn.
In a letter dated March 25, the EPA stated that the application was “significantly incomplete”, citing changes in the application and failure to provide financial guarantees.
The companies formed an initiative to revive a dormant biofuel-fired power plant in Mendota, near Fresno, California, and generate “carbon negative energy.” The project included an underground carbon sequestration site and will remove approximately 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year.
“The EPA did the right thing by hitting the brakes on the Mendota Carbon Capture project,” said Victoria Bogdan Tejeda, an attorney at the Center for Biodiversity. “Carbon capture is risky, costly and inconsistent with environmental justice.”
Chevron and Schlumberger said they had decided to withdraw the permit application and that the group would “continue to collect and evaluate project information.”
“The team is committed to developing low carbon solutions and to do so in an environmentally and socially responsible manner,” the spokesman said.
Separately, Chevron said Wednesday it was launching a carbon-capture and storage project in the San Joaquin Valley aimed at reducing emissions from California’s own operations. (Reporting by Liz Hampton in Denver and Sabrina Valle in Houston; Editing by David Gregorio)