Petra Nova Carbon Capture Project Gets a Second Chance at Failure

The facility in Fort Bend County is the poster child for the false promise of carbon capture

For Immediate Release: Sept. 14, 2023

Contact: José Medina, [email protected]
Veronica Pina, [email protected] 
Riikka Pohjankoski, [email protected]

HOUSTON, Texas – The reopening of the Petra Nova carbon capture project in Fort Bend County will help fossil fuel companies greenwash their reputation and provide little or no benefit to the environment or the neighboring communities, environmental advocates said today in response to Wednesday’s announcement that the facility has restarted operations at the W.A. Parish coal-fired power plant.

Petra Nova first opened in 2016 but was mothballed in May 2020. During that time, the carbon capture project, billed as the biggest in the world, failed to deliver on its promise. The Japanese corporation JX Nippon, now the sole owner of Petra Nova, announced the facility restarted on Sept. 5 at the Parish plant, located near Richmond and owned by NRG Energy.

Adrian Shelley, Texas director of Public Citizen, said: “Projects like Petra Nova provide cover for the polluting fossil fuel industry by obscuring what happens when you burn coal. The effects of coal use at Parish are well-documented: air pollution, ash contaminating water supplies, and greenhouse gas emissions. The most significant cost of this pollution is human lives. Researchers at Rice University have attributed 178 yearly premature deaths to Parish. Petra Nova is an excuse to keep burning coal and extends the lifespan of one of the country’s most infamous and deadly coal plants. Texans want clean air and clean energy. Only fossil fuel barons want carbon capture because, without it, the time is up on their dirty, polluting fuels.”

Veronica Pina, Vice Chair of Fort Bend County Environmental, said:  “Petra Nova does nothing to prevent what ash from burned coal puts in the air and ground. According to AshTracker, between 2010 and 2019, 61 of Parish’s 64 groundwater monitoring wells were polluted above federal advisory levels. The pollutants included mercury, arsenic, and fluoride, to name a few. Pollution emissions and ash from burning coal reduce air quality, proving harmful to everyone, particularly people with asthma or other respiratory conditions. Petra Nova enables one of the country’s most harmful coal power plants to continue polluting. As usual, the communities closest to these facilities run the greatest risk. In this case, our community and its health are on the line.”

Alondra Torres, Climate Justice Coordinator for Air Alliance Houston, said: “Using carbon for enhanced oil recovery is oxymoronic for addressing air pollution and climate goals because this technology enables polluters like NRG. If Texas cannot carry the energy transition with renewables like wind and solar, it bodes poorly for the energy transition on a global scale. This plan jeopardizes the air and water quality in Fort Bend and prolongs the lifespan of a coal facility that has failed in times of crisis, is costly to operate, and is a threat to public health.”


The W.A. Parish Opposition Coal Working Group, Close Parish Coal, is committed to bringing attention to the health and environmental impact of NRG Energy’s W.A. Parish coal plant. Close Parish Coal strives to create a healthier and safer Fort Bend County and Greater Houston area through supporting community-led action that advocates for the closure of the coal units at Parish. Coalition members include Fort Bend County Environmental, Air Alliance Houston, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, and Mi Familia Vota.

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