The Environmental Protection Agency plans to develop regulations for underground sequestration of carbon dioxide, the process of injecting CO2 emissions from power plants or other sources deep into the earth for permanent storage.
The rules will be aimaed at ensuring there’s a “… consistent and effective permit system under the Safe Drinking Water Act for commercial-scale geologic sequestration programs to help reduce the effects of climate change.”
From the press release put out today:
EPA is working with the Department of Energy as it carries out its carbon sequestration research and development program and is also coordinating efforts to evaluate potential impacts on health, safety and the environment.
The Safe Drinking Water Act established the Underground Injection Control (UIC) program to allow the safe injection of fluids into the subsurface in a manner that does not endanger current or future underground sources of drinking water.
EPA plans to propose regulatory changes to the UIC program in the summer of 2008 and will invite the public and stakeholders to provide input throughout the rule development process.
These rules probobly address issues such as how to determine what impacts CO2 injection will have on ground water, what the standards should be for capping and monitoring CO2 storage sites, etc.
This is a pretty important step toward these kinds of projects getting off the ground commercially since no one will build and operate a facility without know what the rules are. Of course an even bigger barrier is dealing with liability issues surrounding CO2 storage and if the government will act as a sort of backstop, as it is supposed to do for nuclear waste storage.
Here’s a link to the EPA’s site on carbon sequestration.
Why should you care? For starters, Texas creates a heck of a lot of CO2 and happens to have a lot of underground formations that are best suited for storing it. We’ve written about how some University of Texas scientists have been testing CO2 sequestration in some old oil fields. And earlier this week the Department of Energy announced funding for three large-scale CO2 sequestration projects.
Of course, if storing CO2 emissions doesn’t work out, maybe this will help..