Greenville opposes burying CO2

Sarah Gardner May 18, 2010

They laugh about it now, but when Greenville residents heard about a federally-funded “carbon sequestration” project…

“We were scared,” says Frankie Gilmore, a local mailman.

Gilmore and many of his neighbors in rural Ohio had never heard of “carbon sequestration.” But in 2008, scientists from Battelle, a major R&D lab, came to call. They wanted to demonstrate that you could capture and bury CO2 emissions miles beneath the earth. The government is looking to apply the technology widely to burning coal.

But local newspaper editor Christina Chalmers says townspeople were grumbling from the get-go.

“A lot of people did not even believe in global warming,” says Chalmers. “So they just thought it was a bunch of garbage.”

Battelle held several public meetings but townspeople were uncomfortable. It wasn’t clear to them who was responsible if anything went wrong. There was a slight chance the CO2 injections could cause earthquakes. And what if the CO2 somehow leaked into the water supply? Battelle assured them quakes and leakage were an extremely low risk. But by 2009 a couple of Internet-savvy grandmothers had started Citizens Against CO2 Sequestration.

Co-founder Jan Teaford wrote their blog.

“This is our home. We live here. Those people don’t live here. They’re never going to live here,” says Teaford. “And we felt we had a right to protect it and we should have a say in what goes on here.”

The group wrote letters to the editor, knocked on doors. They even held a prayer rally. And hundreds of lawn signs reading “No CO2 Waste in Darke County” peppered the town. On August 19th, Battelle scrapped the project, citing “business considerations.”

Tomorrow, Battelle and the lessons of Greenville. See a slideshow of Greenville photos here.

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