Carbon capture project is ‘Band-Aid’ to greenwash $10bn LNG plant, locals say
The proposed Rio Grande LNG, situated on pristine wetlands between Port Isabel and the city of Brownsville is claimed by developer NextDecade to be the "greenest LNG project in the world," employing carbon capture and storage, or CCS, to collect more than 5 million tons of CO2 created during the process of supercooling the gas for loading into specialized ships for export. According to the firm, it will be one of the largest CCS systems in North America, as well as the first LNG terminal to cut CO2 emissions by more than 90%. However, according to a 2019 study by the Department of Energy, the process of cooling the gas generates just 6-7% of the total emissions connected with such facilities. As a result, the planned CCS facility will only be able to reduce a tiny portion of Rio Grande LNG's overall climate effect. According to the Sierra Club, developing Rio Grande LNG may result in up to 163 million tons of CO2 equivalent emissions per year, which is equal to 44 coal plants or more than 35 million automobiles. Due to technical and economic barriers, only 30 commercial CCS projects are in operation globally, many of which are utilized to recover additional oil by re-injecting CO2 into wells. According to the Global CCS Institute, the capacity of these current systems is 43 million tons of CO2 per year, or around 0.1% of global emissions. At least 15 proposed or current LNG export or upstream gas projects throughout the world have revealed intentions to use CCS, including five in Louisiana and Texas proposed by NextDecade, G2 Net-Zero LNG, Venture Global, Sempra Energy, and the French conglomerate TotalEnergies. The Biden administration boosted CCS in August by increasing a carbon-storage tax credit known as 45Q in the Inflation Reduction Act.