Renewable Energy Efforts Highlighted in Draft Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Louisiana

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Governor Edwards’ Climate Initiatives Task Force, charged with making recommendations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions originating in Louisiana, recently took another step towards that goal.

The Task Force released a first draft of the report in the spring of 2021. Based on the public comments received, the Task Force released a revised Draft Partial Final Report along with a Draft Portfolio of Climate Strategies and Actions for public comment on August 23rd. The period for public comment ends on October 8th.

The revised Draft Partial Final Report does not contain any drastic changes; however, the Draft Portfolio of Climate Strategies and Actions is noteworthy. This document contains proposed strategies and specific actions across several priority areas to be considered in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The actions were developed through input from members of the Task Force’s sector committees and submissions from the public. While the actions have been informed by feedback from the Task Force’s advisory groups, research on best practices in other states, and many conversations throughout meetings, workshops, and public comment, the draft action portfolio will continue to evolve in the coming months. After additional rounds of feedback from the Task Force and the public, some actions may be added, deleted, or revised prior to the release of the draft Climate Action Plan later this year and the Final Report in February 2022.

The Draft Portfolio contains 29 strategies, with various amounts of specific actions to carry out each strategy. Some of the actions are related to development of renewable energy in Louisiana, whereas others aim to manage emissions. For example, strategy 9 is to “increase resources for decommissioning legacy oil and gas infrastructure.” Actions under strategy 9 center around drafting new legislation to increase the plugging of abandoned and orphaned wells. Other strategies focus on switching to low carbon fuels and developing the infrastructure to support renewable energy in Louisiana. Noteworthy actions include:

  • ACTION 5.6 Support the safe and equitable deployment of carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) for high-intensity and hard-to-abate emissions: Carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) is a suite of technologies that can play a significant role in GHG emission reduction. Carbon capture can use a variety of techniques to remove emissions from industrial and power production operations post-combustion. With expansive geologic storage potential, highly concentrated industrial corridors, and a trained workforce, Louisiana has potential for deployment of this technology and infrastructure. For processes unable to be made efficient, electrified, or fuel switched, CCUS may be pursued. This action proposes the state continue to work with federal and state partners and industry to determine potential sites for storage, to identify a regulatory and legal framework that supports CCUS, and to determine impacts of capture and transport infrastructure buildout. Further actions in section “Safe and Resilient Energy and Infrastructure for Tomorrow’s Needs” outline specific areas for impact analysis prior to permitting and deployment of infrastructure. (Associated Submitted Action Proposals: 7, 45, 49, 74, 155)
  • ACTION 5.7 Invest in research for utilizations of captured carbon and life cycle analyses to understand their overall impact: The capture and use of carbon dioxide to create valuable products has potential to lower the net costs of reducing emissions and remove CO2 from the atmosphere. This process of utilization refers to the use of CO2 directly or as a feedstock in industrial or chemical processes, to produce valuable carbon-containing products, where CO2 can generate economic value. Utilization technologies are still nascent in form and barriers to implementation remain, so more funding is needed to research and pilot various techniques. This action proposes that DNR would partner with universities to more comprehensively understand and study the various utilization techniques and their applicability and feasibility to reduce emissions in Louisiana industries. (Associated Submitted Action Proposals: n/a)
  • ACTION 7.4 Strategically plan for the development of offshore wind power: Given the availability of wind power as a potential energy resource, Louisiana’s advantage as a strong offshore energy producing state, and the economic development opportunity that wind power presents, it would be advantageous for Louisiana to continue collaboration across sectors and enhancing plans for the accelerated implementation of offshore wind power generation. This action proposes strategic collaboration across Louisiana state agencies and the federal government, transmission planning agencies, energy regulators, and the private sector, to take additional steps to advance development of offshore wind power generation. Possible activities under this action would include tool 13 development, exploring incentives, conducting research and identifying knowledge gaps, conducting stakeholder outreach, and preparing the transmission and workforce infrastructures needed to capitalize on the deployment of offshore wind in the Gulf of Mexico. (Associated Submitted Action Proposals: 61, 101)
  • ACTION 8.2 Solicit a study to more comprehensively understand potential impacts of CCUS technology and infrastructure on communities, ecosystems, and cultural resources to inform siting and permitting deployment: With mixed feedback and perception around the deployment of CCUS, this action proposes the state review existing research and solicit one or multiple studies to understand potential risks more comprehensively for Louisiana in buildout of this emission reduction technology. The study would expressly address but not be limited to the following concerns: air quality impacts on nearby communities, increased energy intensity for different industry processes, pipeline safety implications, wetland impact of pipeline buildout, potential incidents of geologic storage. (Associated Submitted Action Proposals: N/A)
  • ACTION 14.3 Develop a model solar ordinance for adoption by local governments: Communities are increasingly seeing interest by the solar industry to make investments in communities for solar energy generation. However, many – if not most – local governments lack the capacity and technical expertise to develop ordinances on their own. Furthermore, lack of knowledge or misinformation about solar energy facilities may leave communities unprepared and unprotected from the impact of this type of industry and land use. The model solar ordinance developed by this action would be a tool available to local governments and contain the comprehensive policy language needed to protect properties, environments, and people, as well as guide and support solar energy investments locally. This tool would provide context, information, and capacity to local governments, increase predictability of impact, and support current and future solar energy investments
  • ACTION 20.1 Promote and invest in Louisiana solar and offshore wind industries, including specialized worker training and long-term economic development planning to recruit, develop, and retain firms and workers: Louisiana has many programs and investments in place to promote the energy industry, and the state could retool these programs to promote and invest in the energy of the future, especially solar and offshore wind. As other states invest in the energy transformation, Louisiana cannot afford to be left behind. This action proposes a combination of legislative and executive actions to adjust tax incentives, permits, worker training programs, and determine other ways to speed and smooth the transformation of the state’s energy systems. (Associated Submitted Action Proposals: 23, 61, 93)

All the proposed actions can be found here. Since the revised Draft Partial Final Report and the Draft Portfolio of Climate Strategies and Actions are still evolving, public comment on the drafts is important. Public comments can be sent to climate@la.gov through October 8th.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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