Posted on July 22, 2008 by Rick Glick
On July 15, EPA announced new rules for underground injection of carbon dioxide (CO2). The rules are intended to provide a measure of regulatory certainty for carbon capture and storage (CCS) implementation. CO2 STORAGE RULES. CCS is the technology for capturing CO2 as it is released from coal-fired power plants, oil refineries or other large scale sources of CO2 emissions, and then transporting the gas for injection into a suitable underground geologic formation. EPA estimates that CCS could account for as much as 30% of CO2 emissions by 2050, which has obvious implications for climate change.
NEW CLASS OF UIC WELLS
Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA administers the Underground Injection Control (UIC) program. The program is designed to protect drinking water aquifers from industrial injection of fluids into deep geologic formations for purposes such as enhanced oil or gas recovery. CO2 storage presents special challenges as it is buoyant, can be corrosive and would be spread over a large area and held indefinitely. Therefore, EPA proposes a new Class VI well specific to storage.
NO PRESCRIPTIVE STANDARDS
EPA proposes performance-based standards, as opposed to prescriptive requirements. In general, an injection and operations plan must be included with the application that demonstrates drinking water would be protected. Permit holder would have to monitor and periodically report back to EPA to ensure that model predictions as to the size of the CO2 plume and injection pressures prove true. Permittees would be required to demonstrate financial responsibility for post-injection site care for 50 years; that time period could be shorter or longer, depending on the residual risk to drinking water aquifers based on monitoring data.
PLENTY OF ROOM FOR STATE REGULATION
Note that the rules do not address the capture and transportation of CO2. Further, the new rules do not address property rights, liability or other siting regulatory concerns, so we can expect the states to assert jurisdiction.
For more information, see full article here.