The Department of Energy has doled out funding to four Houston companies. Photo via Getty Images

Four Houston companies have captured more than $45 million in federal funding to promote the capture, transportation, use, and storage of tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

The U.S. Department of Energy on May 17 announced funding for these four Houston companies:

  • BP Corporation North America Inc. — $33,411,193. The money will be earmarked for two commercial-scale storage sites along the Texas Gulf Coast. The sites will be able to ultimately store up to 15 million metric tons of CO2 per year.
  • Timberlands Sequestration LLC — $23,779,020. The funding will go toward a biomass carbon removal and storage project for the Alabama River Cellulose pulp and paper mill in Monroe County, Alabama. Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific LLC owns the mill.
  • Magnolia Sequestration Hub LLC — $21,570,784. The money will help finance the Magnolia Sequestration Hub in Allen Parish, Louisiana, with an estimated 300 million metric tons of total CO2 storage capacity. Magnolia is a subsidiary of Houston-based Occidental Petroleum Corp.
  • Bluebonnet Sequestration Hub LLC — $16,480,117. The funding will be spent on development of the Bluebonnet Sequestration Hub along the Texas Gulf Coast, with the potential for more than 350 million metric tons of CO2 storage capacity. Bluebonnet is a subsidiary of Occidental.

Another Texas company received $3 million in Department of Energy (DOE) funding. Howard Midstream Energy Partners LLC of San Antonio will perform a study for a system capable of moving up to 250 million metric tons of CO2 per year from numerous sources to storage sites on the Gulf Coast — from the Port of Corpus Christi to the Mississippi River.

In all, the Department of Energy announced $251 million in funding for 12 projects in seven states aimed at bolstering the U.S. carbon management capabilities. The money comes from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was enacted in 2021.

“Thanks to historic clean energy investments, DOE is building out the infrastructure needed to slash harmful carbon pollution from industry and the power sector, revitalize local economies, and unlock enormous public health benefits,” U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm says in a news release.

DOE says carbon dioxide emissions are fueling global warming, which has heightened the threat of droughts, severe fires, rising sea levels, floods, catastrophic storms, and declining biodiversity.

Precedence Research estimates the value of the global market for carbon capture and storage was $4.91 billion in 2022, and it expects the market value to reach $35.7 billion by 2032.

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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Houston engineering firm tapped as service partner for clean hydrogen production facility

seeing green

A Houston company has scored an engineering services contract on a clean hydrogen production facility in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region.

KBR announced that it has been awarded the contract by First State Hydrogen, which is building an electrolysis-powered green hydrogen production project. The study is part of First State Hydrogen's plan to provide clean energy to Delaware and the U.S. mid-Atlantic region.

"We are excited to be a part of this important project that will contribute toward a cleaner, more sustainable world," KBR Sustainable Technology Solutions President Jay Ibrahim says in a statement. "This award highlights KBR's extensive and innovative clean hydrogen expertise, in providing solutions that matter, and our strategic commitment to the energy transition."

Houston-headquartered KBR has lead the hydrogen market as a technology and service provider.

"This is an important step for First State Hydrogen as we start laying the groundwork for a clean hydrogen facility that will drive our mission to responsibly and safely advance the clean hydrogen economy and create a more sustainable future," Dora Cheatham, vice president of sales and commercialization at First State Hydrogen, says in the release. "We're excited to have the KBR team with us on this journey."

National plastics-focused initiative names Houston expert to committee

new role

A Houston energy and sustainability expert has been named to a national committee that provides a forum for issues around national efforts to reduce plastic pollution.

Rachel Meidl, a fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, was appointed to the Roundtable on Plastics Committee established by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

"As a member of the The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Roundtable on Plastics Committee, our science- and evidence-based work will cover all aspects of the plastics lifecycle and examine interventions in plastic production, waste management, environmental and health impacts, and data collection, management, and modeling," Meidl writes on LinkedIn. "The goal is to pave the way for a sustainable circular economy for plastics. I look forward to working on this important endeavor."

Meidl has more than 27 years of experience in industry, government, policy, finance, international relations, and academia. Her research focuses on sustainability, environmental justice, resiliency, circular economy, safety and environmental regulations of the treatment, storage, disposal and transportation of hazardous materials and wastes.

She also works with understanding environmental, economic and social impacts across energy and material supply chains. Previously, she was appointed deputy associate administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration in Washington, D.C.. There, she led the agency’s domestic and international strategy, policy and programs.

The roundtable is expected to be a way for federal agencies and experts in academia, industry and nongovernmental organizations to talk about future research initiatives. Activities will include aspects of the plastics lifecycle and potential interventions in plastic production and waste management; material and product design; environmental and health impacts and data collection, management and modeling. The National Academies will address the diversity and complexity of issues in reducing plastic waste by convening various sectors and experts to match each step in the lifecycle of the plastics.

New EPA rule says 200 US chemical plants in Texas, beyond must reduce cancer-causing toxic emissions

mission: lower emissions

More than 200 chemical plants nationwide will be required to reduce toxic emissions that are likely to cause cancer under a new rule issued Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency. The rule advances President Joe Biden’s commitment to environmental justice by delivering critical health protections for communities burdened by industrial pollution from ethylene oxide, chloroprene and other dangerous chemicals, officials said.

Areas that will benefit from the new rule include majority-Black neighborhoods outside New Orleans that EPA Administrator Michael Regan visited as part of his 2021 Journey to Justice tour. The rule will significantly reduce emissions of chloroprene and other harmful pollutants at the Denka Performance Elastomer facility in LaPlace, Louisiana, the largest source of chloroprene emissions in the country, Regan said.

“Every community in this country deserves to breathe clean air. That’s why I took the Journey to Justice tour to communities like St. John the Baptist Parish, where residents have borne the brunt of toxic air for far too long,” Regan said. “We promised to listen to folks that are suffering from pollution and act to protect them. Today we deliver on that promise with strong final standards to slash pollution, reduce cancer risk and ensure cleaner air for nearby communities.”

When combined with a rule issued last month cracking down on ethylene oxide emissions from commercial sterilizers used to clean medical equipment, the new rule will reduce ethylene oxide and chloroprene emissions by nearly 80%, officials said.

The rule will apply to 218 facilities spread across Texas and Louisiana, the Ohio River Valley, West Virginia and the upper South, the EPA said. The action updates several regulations on chemical plant emissions that have not been tightened in nearly two decades.

Democratic Rep. Troy Carter, whose Louisiana district includes the Denka plant, called the new rule “a monumental step" to safeguard public health and the environment.

“Communities deserve to be safe. I've said this all along,'' Carter told reporters at a briefing Monday. "It must begin with proper regulation. It must begin with listening to the people who are impacted in the neighborhoods, who undoubtedly have suffered the cost of being in close proximity of chemical plants — but not just chemical plants, chemical plants that don’t follow the rules.''

Carter said it was "critically important that measures like this are demonstrated to keep the confidence of the American people.''

The new rule will slash more than 6,200 tons (5,624 metric tonnes) of toxic air pollutants annually and implement fenceline monitoring, the EPA said, addressing health risks in surrounding communities and promoting environmental justice in Louisiana and other states.

The Justice Department sued Denka last year, saying it had been releasing unsafe concentrations of chloroprene near homes and schools. Federal regulators had determined in 2016 that chloroprene emissions from the Denka plant were contributing to the highest cancer risk of any place in the United States.

Denka, a Japanese company that bought the former DuPont rubber-making plant in 2015, said it “vehemently opposes” the EPA’s latest action.

“EPA’s rulemaking is yet another attempt to drive a policy agenda that is unsupported by the law or the science,” Denka said in a statement, adding that the agency has alleged its facility “represents a danger to its community, despite the facility’s compliance with its federal and state air permitting requirements.”

The Denka plant, which makes synthetic rubber, has been at the center of protests over pollution in majority-Black communities and EPA efforts to curb chloroprene emissions, particularly in the Mississippi River Chemical Corridor, an 85-mile (137-kilometer) industrial region known informally as Cancer Alley. Denka said it already has invested more than $35 million to reduce chloroprene emissions.

The EPA, under pressure from local activists, agreed to open a civil rights investigation of the plant to determine if state officials were putting Black residents at increased cancer risk. But in June the EPA dropped its investigation without releasing any official findings and without any commitments from the state to change its practices.

Regan said the rule issued Tuesday was separate from the civil rights investigation. He called the rule “very ambitious,'' adding that officials took care to ensure “that we protect all of these communities, not just those in Cancer Alley, but communities in Texas and Puerto Rico and other areas that are threatened by these hazardous air toxic pollutants.''

While it focuses on toxic emissions, “by its very nature, this rule is providing protection to environmental justice communities — Black and brown communities, low-income communities — that have suffered for far too long,'' Regan said.

Patrice Simms, vice president of the environmental law firm Earthjustice, called the rule “a victory in our pursuit for environmental justice.”

“There’s always more to do to demand that our laws live up to their full potential,” Simms said, "but EPA's action today brings us a meaningful step closer to realizing the promise of clean air, the promise of safe and livable communities and ... more just and more equitable environmental protections.''