WEST TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– Dozens of residents from Vigo and Vermillion counties packed the Fayette Elementary School gym Tuesday as they continued to voice concerns on a proposed project that would store carbon underground in the community.
Representatives of Wabash Valley Resources answered questions from the Vigo County Commissioners and from the public again as they addressed fears of long-term impacts to the environment, as well as possible safety issues. The company provided additional details on where they stand right now in the process to starting production.
Greg Zoeller, the vice president of external affairs, said they are currently waiting on the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, to grant them permits to allow construction of the injection wells, along with 11 miles of pipeline to transport the carbon dioxide underground.
“We have two permits that are now in draft form. They’ll respond to all technical questions and legal questions,” he said. “Those will be published, so every technical and legal questions will have to be answered by the EPA. After that, hopefully we’ll have the permits that allows us to build the pipeline.”
Those permits allow the equipment to be constructed, but additional testing would have to done before they are allowed to inject. Zoeller said they also had to secure additional funding once the permits were granted. He said there is no timeline for when the EPA will give a response.
“I think it’s important to realize the EPA is the one who’s in a hurry,” he said. “There’s over 150 applications for these types of injection wells, so we’re the first, it will get a lot of attention, because we’re going to be the first of many. This is a national program to sequester carbon instead of polluting the air.”
The company is still working on the exact route of the pipeline, negotiating with landowners and making changes to the route when necessary. Zoeller said they do not plan to use eminent domain, which allows the government or an agent to expropriate private property for public use with payment to the previous owners, unless they absolutely have to.
“It’s true, it’s like any road that’s developed or any pipeline, when you have a right of way, and there’s a piece missing, they do eminent domain as the last resort, where all the other landowners have approved it, and have been paid, and there’s one holdout, it’s the same with any highway or pipeline,” he said.
Still, many residents left the meeting still having reservations with the project. Vigo County Commissioner Mark Clinkenbeard said he was satisfied with the meeting, and would be willing to have more if the community sees a need.
“I felt it went pretty well, we had a great turnout, it was great to see the people care and want to try and get some answers,” he said. “That was our hope, was that we could facilitate a good meeting where people’s questions were answered.”
He said the commissioners did not have the ability to alter the future of the project, but they did request the EPA extend the public comment period, which ended on Monday.
“We have asked for another 30 days for more public comment, more chances to answer more questions. But yes, it’s pretty much waiting on the EPA now to say yay or nay,” he said.
If granted the permits, Zoeller said it would still take years until work begins, saying 2026 would be the “optimistic” timeline for production.
He added that the company would be in it “for the long haul” to try and smooth concerns of citizens.
“This is something that the federal government is really supporting, our state supports. The legislation that was passed really provides a pathway to do this, so we are going to be here for the long haul and with so many questions and concerns, we really need to respond to the community,” he said.