Officials cheer DOE funding for regional carbon storage hub

E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Elected officials in Northwest Indiana lauded the announcement of over $98 million in funds from the U.S. Department of Energy for a carbon capture and storage project by BP.

On Wednesday, the department announced BP’s Project Crossroads as one of six carbon capture and storage projects around the country. Emitted when fossil fuels are burned, carbon dioxide is among the main contributors to human-made climate change. Carbon capture and storage projects aim to reduce the environmental impact of industrial processes by capturing and sequestering the CO2 rather than allowing it to enter the atmosphere.

BP proposes to store up to 23 million metric tons of CO2 per year in underground wells, according to the DOE’s announcement, pumping it in liquid form into porous Mount Simon sandstone deep underground. Transporting CO2 from BP’s Whiting refinery to suitable injection sites will require the construction of over 100 miles of new pipelines.

The project will also include a community benefits plan that will “foster a skilled and qualified workforce that will boost the economy and build a diverse capability for the industry and community,” the DOE wrote.

Wednesday’s funding announcement came shortly after the DOE released its seven selections for regional “hydrogen hub” funding.

One of the partnerships selected for funding, the Midwest Alliance for Clean Hydrogen (MachH2), includes BP as a member and stands to receive up to $1 billion in total federal investment spread across nine hydrogen-related projects in Indiana, Michigan and Illinois.

Carbon capture and storage by BP forms part of MachH2′s plans for new hydrogen infrastructure in the region. The company plans to capture and store carbon dioxide produced during the production of hydrogen from natural gas, reducing the environmental impact of newly hydrogen-powered

U.S. Rep. Frank Mrvan, D-Highland, cheered news of the DOE funding in a statement released shortly after the announcement.

“This is outstanding news that further builds on the recent announcement for a transformational clean hydrogen hub and is a testament to the incredible manufacturing workers of our region,” he wrote. “I congratulate all the leaders and dedicated union workforce at BP, and remain grateful for the leadership of Governor Holcomb and everyone in the State of Indiana for having a shared commitment and foresight to create the conditions necessary for this type of success. Let us continue to collaborate and build on this momentum to ensure Northwest Indiana remains a leader in creating new clean energy jobs and technologies.”

Indiana State Rep. Carolyn Jackson, D-Hammond, echoed Mrvan in a statement released Friday. She framed BP’s carbon capture plans as a step toward addressing Northwest Indiana’s long history of pollution from heavy industry.

“It feels like someone is finally listening,” she wrote. “The environmental investments our community has seen this year are a historic step in the right direction that was long overdue. It is beyond time that the environment of Northwest Indiana and the well-being of its residents were given the deserved assistance. Northwest Indiana is stepping into a new era with these long-needed investments.”