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EPA Finalizes Two Carbon Rules to Protect Drinking Water

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized two rules — related to the capture and sequestration of carbon dioxide — to protect drinking-water supplies from future efforts to capture and store carbon from coal-fired power plants, reports Bloomberg.

The new rules aim to protect drinking water and to track the amount of carbon dioxide that is sequestered from facilities. Rules governing the “environmental soundness of injecting and storing carbon dioxide underground” must be part of a federal plan to “facilitate widespread cost-effective deployment” of the pollution-control technology after 2020, according to a task force of 14 U.S. agencies, reports Bloomberg.

The EPA says carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies have the potential to enable large emitters of carbon dioxide, such as coal fired power plants, to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. CCS technologies allow carbon dioxide to be captured at stationary sources like power plants and large industrial operations and injected underground for long-term storage in a process called geologic sequestration, added the agency.

EPA administrator Lisa Jackson said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg that the regulation is a major step in the federal government’s effort to promote a “promising technology” capturing carbon dioxide that otherwise would be emitted from smokestacks and injecting it into geologic formations such as deep-saline aquifers and depleted oil reservoirs.

The drinking-water rule governs the way carbon- dioxide injection wells are located, built, tested, monitored and closed, reports Bloomberg. It includes the development of a new class of injection well called Class VI, established under EPA’s Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program. The UIC Program was established under the authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

A separate rule targets the amount of carbon dioxide that’s captured and stored, reports Bloomberg. This rule focuses on greenhouse gas reporting requirements for facilities that carry out geologic sequestration. Information gathered under the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program will enable EPA to track the amount of carbon dioxide sequestered by these facilities.

The program was established in 2009 under authority of the Clean Air Act and requires reporting of greenhouse gases from various source categories in the United States.

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