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Montana Signs Carbon Storage Bill

montanaGovernor Brian Schweitzer of Montana signed a bill that creates regulatory guidelines for storing carbon dioxide underground in Montana, reports the Great Falls Tribune newspaper.

The bill will allow a storage company to turn a site over to the state after 30 years if it is problem-free, and gives ownership of underground pore spaces where gas might be stored to surface landowners, according to the newspaper.

Although large-scale carbon storage has not been tested in the United States, and is just starting in Britain, many countries believe it is necessary for the coal industry in order to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Many countries rely on coal for power.

Governor Schweitzer also met with Canada’s Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall to sign a memorandum of understanding to work together on a carbon capture project, according to CTV News.

The proposed $270 million project entails piping carbon dioxide emitted from a coal-fired power plant in southern Saskatchewan to Montana where it will be stored underground, according to CTV News. In addition, the carbon dioxide could be pumped back out of the ground and used for enhanced oil recovery.

Saskatchewan will provide up to $50 million for the project, and is requesting another $100 million from the Canadian government, while Montana is looking to secure about $100 million from the U.S. federal stimulus package for the project, according to the news station.

Plant construction could start as early as September 2009 and become operational as early as 2011. The plant will test a range of technologies in the capture of up to one million tons of CO2 over a four-year period.

Many countries are struggling with ways to reduce GHG emissions particularly from coal power plants that are a key source of electricity for many of them. Some countries are looking at carbon capture and storage (CSS) technologies to help reduce GHG emissions. For example, Germany’s cabinet recently approved a CCS draft law that opens the door to developing the technology that will cut coal plant pollution and bury CO2 underground. Britain also recently announced plans to force all new coal plants in the country to test the CCS technology.

In the United States, the Department of Energy released its fiscal year 2010 budget that slates $180 million for carbon capture and sequestration research, development and deployment. However, the National Mining Association says the $180 million in the budget was not sufficient.

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