The EPA yesterday issued a final rule that the agency says will help create a consistent national framework to ensure the safe and effective deployment of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies.
CCS technologies allow carbon dioxide to be captured at stationary sources — like coal-fired power plants and large industrial operations — and injected underground for long-term storage in a process called geologic sequestration.
The new rule clarifies that CO2 streams captured from emission sources, injected underground via UIC Class VI wells approved for the purpose of geologic sequestration under the Safe Drinking Water Act, and meeting certain other conditions (for example, compliance with applicable transportation regulations), will be excluded from the EPA’s hazardous waste regulations.
The EPA also clarifies that CO2 injected underground via UIC Class II wells for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is not expected to be a waste management activity.
The EPA concluded that the careful management of CO2 streams under the specified conditions does not present a substantial risk to human health or the environment. The agency says this determination will help provide a clear pathway for the deployment of CCS technologies in a safe and environmentally protective manner while also ensuring protection of underground sources of drinking water.
Earlier this month the Department of Energy made available $8 billion in loan guarantee authority to support carbon capture and other advanced fossil energy projects that avoid, reduce or sequester greenhouse gases.
As the Obama Administration continues to make the case — crucial for its carbon standards for power plants — that carbon capture is a bankable technology, arguments that carbon capture is unaffordable will likely be one of the biggest legal threats to the standards, analysts say.
Last month the DOE announced it would invest nearly $84 million in 18 projects to research second-generation technologies for carbon capture from coal-fired power plants.
Photo Credit: coal power plant image via Shutterstock