U.S. EPA challenges California company’s plankton-seeding plan

A California company’s plan to fight climate change by seeding the ocean with iron dust is drawing fire from the U.S. EPA, which reportedly woke from a nap with the vague feeling that it ought to be doing something regulatory. The company, Planktos, will use the iron to spur the growth of phytoplankton, which can absorb carbon dioxide. It would then sell carbon credits based on the project. Critics have pointed out a boatload of flaws with the plan, including the fact that the plants can release other greenhouse gases when they decompose. Now the EPA says the release of nearly 50 tons of iron requires a permit under the Ocean Dumping Act. Planktos CEO Russ George claims the amount in question is “roughly a billion times below regulatory limit” and says he’ll switch to a non-U.S. ship if need be. The International Maritime Organization will consider the topic at a meeting this week; says Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution: “It’s far-fetched to claim you help ocean ecosystems by disturbing them.”