View of the town of Barendrecht, where plans for the storage of CO2 underground are underway
THE HAGUE, Netherlands—The Dutch government approved a pilot project Wednesday to pump carbon dioxide into depleted gas fields beneath a town of 43,000 people as a way of reducing emissions blamed for global warming.
Residents of Barendrecht, a suburb 12 miles (18 kilometers) from Rotterdam, fiercely oppose the plan and the local municipality immediately said it would launch legal proceedings to prevent it.
The ministries of environment and economic affairs said Royal Dutch Shell will pump about 800,000 tons of carbon dioxide into the underground chamber more than a mile (2 kilometers) beneath the suburb.
The government estimates there is room to store 10 million tons in two depleted gas fields under Barendrecht. It will closely monitor the first project before considering using the second field for storage.
"The Cabinet is blind to the concerns of Barendrecht residents," municipality alderman Simon Zuurbier said in a statement that accused the government of "allowing itself to be held hostage by Shell."
It is the first scheme of its kind in the Netherlands, although a dozen other projects are under way across Europe to store carbon under ground, mainly from coal-fired power stations.
That would allow countries that have lots of coal, such as China and the United States, to cut emissions while using the cheap but polluting fossil fuel.
If it proves economical, the technology would buy the world time in the fight against global warming by reducing emissions until cleaner energy sources can be developed — and help the European Union keep promises to reduce greenhouse gas emission by up to 95 percent by 2050.
Related article: Residents Object to 10 Million Metric Tons of CO2 Under Their Homes