EPA Drafts Rule for Carbon Sequestration

  • Published on July 16th, 2008

The type of installation that could benefit from carbon capture and sequestrationThe Environmental Protection Agency announced on Tuesday a first draft of a rule that will govern the geologic sequestration of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from power plants. Geologic sequestration of global warming gases, also known as “carbon capture and sequestration” (CCS), is viewed by some as a critical component of a climate change policy portfolio.

According to the EPA, the annual cost associated with the implementation of the rule are estimated to be around $15 million.

“Today’s proposal paves the way for technologies that would protect public health and help reduce the effects of climate change,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “With proper site selection and management, geologic sequestration could play a major role in reducing emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”

EPA’s proposed regulation creates a national framework for the injection of carbon dioxide underground and protection of underground drinking water resources. The agency acted under the Clean Water Act because injecting carbon dioxide could push pollutants into underground drinking water supplies, according to Benjamin H. Grumbles, assistant EPA administrator for water. The rule would create a new class of injection wells under the authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act’s Underground Injection Control (UIC) program.

According to an EPA Factsheet (EPA 816-F-08-031), the new monitoring rule is needed because:

“The relative buoyancy of CO2, its corrosivity in the presence of water, the potential presence of impurities in captured CO2, its mobility within subsurface formations, and large injection volumes anticipated at full scale deployment warrant specific requirements tailored to this new practice.”

The rule, which would apply to well owners and operators, would require monitoring to trace the chemical, squeezed down into liquid form. “A cornerstone of this rule is that the carbon dioxide stays where it is put, and not leak or be released to the surface,” Mr. Grumbles said.

EPA is requesting public comments on the proposed rule for 120 days.

Other posts on carbon and carbon policy:

Photo: thewritingzone via flickr under a Creative Commons License

About the Author

is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media, a media network about the politics of energy and the environment, green business, cleantech, and green living. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.
  • Pingback: Is Storing Carbon Dioxide Under the Ocean a Viable Strategy for Combating Global Warming? : Planetsave()

  • Pingback: ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS PICKS « The Conservation Report()

  • Kiganshee-

    I hope I was clear that it is the rule itself that would cost $15 million to implement. This estimate has nothing to do with the astronomical cost of CCS itself, and it does indeed pale in comparison to the actual infrastructure needed to pull this off on a wide-scale.

    Thanks for your comment.

  • Kiganshee

    I'm pleasantly surprised at how astute the commenters are here. The first thing I though when I saw the picture was "great, a misleading image. that bodes well for the level of the article and the discussion". Good job guys.

    Anyways, to add something, I am extremely skeptical that of the quoted number that the rule will cost $15 million annually. CCS is very expensive. It may prove to be the best option for reducing CO2 emissions, but it is expensive. Wells to a good depth cost $3 million apiece, and gas compressors and separation of gases are also very energy-intensive. Spread that across many power plants (some of which will not be close to suitable geologic formation), and you are talking hundreds of millions of dollars. I would believe $15 million annually to track paperwork and conduct audits across the industry. But $15 million / year to capture all the carbon from power plants? If it cost that little, we'd be doing it already.

  • BrianIdaho

    FWIW, the skinny little stack in the middle is the "smoke stack" exhausting combustion gasses, CO2 and water vaper. The 8 large columns, water vapor only from the cooling towers.

  • Sigh and Sam:

    Thanks for your comments. I selected that photograph because it makes a powerful statement. The photo in the post is not of a nuclear power plant releasing steam, it is of Drax, the largest coal-fired power station in the UK. It provides 7% of the electrical power required by Britain and generates around 1.5 million tons of ash and 22.8 million tons of carbon dioxide each year (source).

    I recognize that most of what you see in the picture is water vapor, but I also wanted to stress that Drax is the biggest single source of carbon dioxide in the UK.

  • sam

    so are you posting a picture of a nuclear plant releasing steam to manipulate people into thinking it's a coal plant releasing smoke? or do you just not realize that the plant in the picture you posted has almost zero co2 emissions?

  • sigh

    I hope you realize those are cooling towers emitting harmless water vapor rather than CO2 🙂

  • We put it up… we inject it back down. It's the weird world of carbon dioxide!

  • Kendra

    They should plant a million trees around each plant, then it will REALLY be a Power Plant. Ha ha