United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) recently proposed its latest rule to continue its support of the deployment of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies. CCS is one option available to help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion. CCS is a three step process by which the carbon dioxide is captured from the emissions of combustion of fossil fuels, transported via pipeline, and then injected deep underground in appropriate geologic formations for long term storage. CCS should prevent the carbon dioxide from escaping to the earth’s atmosphere and help mitigate the ecological effects of fossil fuel combustion.
In its latest proposal (available at http://federalregister.gov/a/2011-19915), USEPA proposes to exclude carbon dioxide streams injected for geologic sequestration in Class VI wells designated for CCS under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) from the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste regulations. According to the agency, the proposed management of these carbon dioxide streams does not present a substantial risk to human health or the environment. Therefore additional regulation under RCRA is unnecessary. USEPA expects this proposal to reduce barriers to the use of CCS technologies and to reduce the uncertainty associated with identification of such carbon dioxide streams under RCRA subtitle C.
This proposal is intended to complement other rulemaking including: the final rules under the Clean Air Act that require reporting by facilities that capture or inject carbon dioxide streams and SDWA regulations for CCS wells. This proposal is consistent with President Obama’s interagency task force on carbon dioxide sequestration and helps the U.S. support the deployment of clean energy technologies. Comments to the proposed rule are due on or before October 7, 2011. More information on the proposed rule can be found at http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/industrial/geosequester/index.htm.
This article was authored by Laura G. Swingle, Jackson Kelly PLLC. For more information on the author see here.