The 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.