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"There's several hundred commercial fisherman that make their livelihood out of this lake" - community tells gas supplier to go away

St. John the Baptist residents push back against drilling CO2 into Lake Maurepas.

ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH, La. — Residents of St. John the Baptist Parish are calling for the Parish Council to stand up for them and their environment after an industrial gas supplier proposes to drill into Lake Maurepas.

George Coxen is a commercial fisherman who’s been catching catfish and crabs on Lake Maurepas for years.

"The shrimp come here and they grow and they go back out, the crabs bed up in here, grow and they come back up in the fall," he said.

He says he and others like him have concerns for those livelihoods. 

"There's several hundred commercial fishermen that make their livelihood out of this lake," Coxen said.

Air Products -- an industrial gas supplier -- wants to store carbon dioxide from its clean energy plant underneath the lake.

The company presented its proposal to the Parish Council Tuesday, but some residents sounded off at the meeting.

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"Ya'll wouldn't put your family there and I wouldn't either. This is gone too far, and their pushing this project on us and on ya'll," one resident said.

"I as a lifelong Louisiana resident am concerned about what this testing and eventual plan to sink an industry's waste product underneath Lake Maurepas will do the environment of south Louisiana," another resident said.

The company proposes to drill wells into the bed of the lake to test the strength of rock formations.

"The seismic survey is there and that is designed to understand the geology below the lake and verify whether that is suitable for CO2 sequestration," Andrew Connolly from Air Products said 

More pushback came from councilmembers who say there are no guarantees the project will pose no risk to human life or the environment. 

"For your dollar you may want to risk the drinking water for our citizens and their health, I am not willing to do that," one councilmember said.

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"I am disturbed because it's like you're saying its ok and it's not," another councilmember said.

"What concerns me is in St. John Parish we are already known as cancer ally, we're fighting issues with air emissions as we speak," another said.

But Air Products says it already has the necessary permits, but as of Tuesday, there has been no seismic activity on the lake.

"We will see what happens from this, we do have the permits to do the work and we're going to go away and review and see what our path forward is," Connolly said. 

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