The Lithuanian parliament has drafted a law that would ban storing captured carbon in the country's geological formations. The Energy Ministry has criticised the move, while the MPs who authored the bill say the country needs to protect its underground water resources from contamination.
A new technology aims at cutting the release of CO2 into the atmosphere by capturing it from large plants and burying it in a liquefied form underground.
The Energy Ministry has recently signed a memorandum with an American company about building a gas power plant that would test and use such carbon capture and storage technology in western Lithuania.
However, members of the ruling majority in the Lithuanian parliament, Seimas, have drafted a bill banning to store captured carbon in the country's territory. The bill passed the first hearing on Thursday and will be put for the final vote next week.
“Our land is rich in underground water, we have a geological structure where we cannot guarantee that whatever is stored underground will not leak into our water,” says Ramūnas Karbauskis, the leader of the ruling Farmers and Greens Union.
According to Environment Minister Kęstutis Mažeika, Lithuania has only fully explored its waters 15 metres from the surface, so storing carbon 1km underground may carry unknown risks.
Meanwhile Energy Minister Žygimantas Vaičiūnas slammed the initiative, saying it will deter investment.
“Lithuania is sending a message to potential investors that advanced technologies are not welcome here. The decision made today will cost the Lithuanian people dearly,” Vaičiūnas told LRT TV on Thursday.
The move has also been criticised by conservative members of the opposition. MP Žygimantas Pavilionis, of the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats, says the ban undermines Lithuania's efforts to achieve energy independence.
However, a member of the parliamentary Committee on Environment Protection, Artūras Skardžius, says the proposed ban on underground carbon storage is in line with recommendations from the President's Office and the European Commission. The CO2 capture and storage technology benefits energy and oil businesses and not the environment and general population, he says.
“It's private business seeking to reap economic gains at the expense of our children, our country and the environment,” Skardžius tells LRT TV. “I see a national threat in this.”