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TERRA HAUTE, IND –Hundreds of residents showed up at a public meeting on Tuesday to oppose a state pilot project that would store carbon dioxide emissions underground. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drafted a permit to allow Wabash Valley Resources to inject CO2 into wells in Vigo and Vermillion counties.


Residents say they are concerned about the proximity of the project to fault lines and abandoned mines. They also say there’s a potential for CO2 leaks or migration that could harm people and livestock. Kerwin Olson, executive director of the Citizens Action Coalition, called the deal a bad one for the residents of Vigo County.


“They (Wabash Valley Resources) just indicated tonight that they don’t have the cash,” Olson said. “So, they need this permit to obtain that federal loan guarantee to get their money. Let’s not lose sight that this is largely a project funded and backed by the American taxpayer.”


The public forum was held at Fayette Elementary and hosted by the Vigo County Commissioners.


Several years ago, some residents expressed concern about an incident where a pipeline in Mississippi carrying CO2 ruptured and put more than 40 people in the hospital. Residents worry that the project could trigger an earthquake because it’s close to fault lines and abandoned mines. They also fear the CO2 could leak or migrate — risking the health of people and livestock.


“This is a unique opportunity,” Vigo County Commissioner Mike Morris. “These people are taking a great risk. They see an opportunity as business people. It’s a huge deal. A million dollar investment in this plant, reducing costs to the farmers and carbon sequestration, which is something people have been trying to figure out for years.”


The EPA would monitor the project for 12 years.