Letter: Hopi Water, Energy Team member clarifies CO2 concerns
To the editor,
Regarding the article Hopi Council approves carbon capture storage project article published on July 27, 2010, we would like to make the following corrections:
1. The Tribal Council approved two resolutions to enter into an agreement with the West Coast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (WESTCARB) to install a geologic characterization well to a depth of 7,000 feet on the southwest side of the Black Mesa Basin (not up on the mesa).
2. The project does not involve capturing, injecting, or storing any CO2. If the project confirms that the deep, porous rocks under Hopi land could be used to safely store CO2, then the Hopi would have the geologic information upon which to make an informed decision about CO2 storage in the future.
3. The project does not involve mineral exploration.
4. CO2 is not a poisonous gas. Nor does it burn or explode. It is in the air we breathe and in soda pop and fire extinguishers.
5. CO2 is not a water pollutant. Moreover, the likelihood of stored CO2 ever reaching a freshwater aquifer is minimized because the rock formations suitable for CO2 storage are much deeper and geologically isolated from freshwater aquifers. The water found in CO2 storage zones is typically much saltier than seawater, and is unsuitable for drinking or agriculture. CO2 transportation by pipeline and injection for storage do not consume water. CO2 capture processes at industrial facilities require cooling, which can use water.
6. The project management team consists of scientists and engineers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, the Electric Power Research Institute (whose members include Arizona power producers), and experienced contractors who will manage site drilling operations. They will work with the Hopi and Joelynn Roberson, a project manager hired by the Hopi Tribe's Water and Energy Team.
The Hopi are interested in this project because it will provide them with geologic information to make informed decisions about future CO2 storage, in the event that CO2 emission regulations are adopted.
CO2 storage takes place in the tiny pore spaces of rocks thousands of feet deep beneath impermeable cap rock layers. Natural CO2 reservoirs in Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Mississippi have stored CO2 in this manner for millions of years. Oilfield operators in New Mexico and Texas have been injecting CO2 to improve oil recovery for decades. There is no history of CO2 leaks from engineered geologic storage sites harming people, livestock, or drinking water aquifers.
As stated above, this project does not involve CO2 capture, injection, or storage. The Hopi have not applied to the U.S. Department of Energy for any projects that would inject CO2 into the ground.
Readers are encouraged to address any questions or concerns about the Black Mesa Basin geologic characterization well to members of the Hopi Water and Energy Team, including myself, Everett Calnimptewa, Phillip Quochytewa, George Mase and Arvin Puhuyesva.
Hopi Water and Energy Team