Climate Change

Carbon Dioxide Capture and Sequestration: Federal Research and Regulations

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The federal government is conducting a wide range of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) related activities including:

  • Supporting research and development (R&D), pilot tests, and demonstration programs
  • Developing regulations to help ensure the safety of and track the activity of CCS in the United States
  • Encouraging sharing of technological know-how
  • Addressing barriers to the wide-spread deployment of the technology

What is EPA doing?

EPA's goal is to ensure that geologic sequestration activities are safe and effective. Through the development of the regulatory framework outlined below, EPA is working to ensure that CCS is available as a climate mitigation technology, and deployed in a way that ensures human health and the environment are protected. Federal regulatory programs include the following:

Underground Injection Control Program

In December of 2010 EPA finalized requirements for geologic sequestration, including the development of a new class of wells, Class VI, under the authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act’s Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program. These requirements, also known as the Class VI rule, are designed to protect underground sources of drinking water. The Class VI rule builds on existing UIC Program requirements, with extensive tailored requirements that address carbon dioxide injection for long-term storage to ensure that wells used for geologic sequestration are appropriately sited, constructed, tested, monitored, funded, and closed. Visit the Geologic Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide in the Underground Injection Control Program for more information.

Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program

Under the authority of the Clean Air Act, EPA finalized greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting requirements for suppliers of CO2 (including CO2 capture), underground injection, and geologic sequestration of CO2. This information will enable EPA to monitor the growth and effectiveness of carbon capture and sequestration as a GHG mitigation technology over time and to evaluate relevant policy options. This rule is complementary to and builds on EPA’s UIC requirements. Visit Subpart PP, Subpart UU, and Subpart RR of the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program for more information.

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

EPA is working on a regulation that would clarify how streams of CO2 injected for geologic sequestration would be classified under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste requirements. Visit RCRA Hazardous Waste Systems: Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Streams Being Sequestered for more information.

Vulnerability Evaluation Framework

The Vulnerability Evaluation Framework (VEF) provides policy-makers, stakeholders, industry, and the public with a transparent framework to evaluate vulnerabilities associated with geologic sequestration sites. The VEF is a tool that can be used to identify areas that require in-depth evaluation for project design, site-specific risk assessment, monitoring, and management. See Vulnerability Evaluation Framework for more information.

Vulnerability Evaluation Framework for Geologic Sequestration of Carbon dioxide

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What are other agencies doing?

Interagency Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage

In February 2010, President Obama created the Interagency Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage to develop a comprehensive and coordinated Federal strategy to speed the commercial development and deployment of clean coal technologies. The Task Force consisted of fourteen Executive Departments and Federal Agencies, and was co-chaired by EPA and the Department of Energy. On August 12, 2010, the Task Force delivered a series of recommendations to the President on overcoming the barriers to the widespread, cost-effective deployment of CCS within ten years. The report concludes that CCS can play an important role in domestic GHG emissions reductions while preserving the option of using abundant domestic fossil energy resources. However, widespread cost-effective deployment of CCS will occur only if the technology is commercially available at economically competitive prices and supportive national policy frameworks are in place. The Task Force's recommendations include specific actions to help overcome remaining barriers and achieve the President's goals.

Department of Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Fossil Energy Office and the National Energy Technology Laboratory lead and support a number of CCS research and development programs and initiatives to facilitate the commercial deployment of CCS. Some highlights of DOE’s work include:

Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships: In 2003 DOE created a network of seven Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships (RCSPs) to help develop the technology, infrastructure, and regulations to implement large-scale CO2 sequestration in different regions and geologic formations within the Nation. The RCSPs are public/private partnerships comprised of more than 400 organizations covering 43 states and four Canadian provinces. The RCSPs include representatives from state and local agencies, regional universities, national laboratories, non-government organizations, foreign government agencies, engineering and research firms, electric utilities, oil and gas companies, and other industrial partners. The RCSP Initiative established the foundation that is being further enhanced by additional small- and large-scale projects, addressing specific applied research on injectivity, capacity verification, and safe geologic storage practices necessary to progress toward commercialization of the technology.

Clean Coal Power Initiative and Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage Projects: The mission of the Clean Coal Power Initiative (CCPI) is to enable and accelerate the deployment of advanced technologies to ensure clean, reliable, and affordable electricity for the United States. The CCPI is a cost-shared partnership between the Government and industry to develop and demonstrate advanced coal-based power generation technologies at the commercial scale.

DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is currently implementing a program titled “Carbon Capture and Sequestration from Industrial Sources and Innovative Concepts for Beneficial CO2 Use” (also known as Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage Projects, or ICCS). This CCS and CO2 utilization program is a cost-shared collaboration between the Government and industry whose purpose is to increase investment in clean industrial technologies and sequestration projects.

Carbon Sequestration Core Projects: DOE's Fossil Energy program is developing a portfolio of technologies that can capture and permanently store greenhouse gases. DOE’s efforts have focused on the following main research areas:

In addition to the programs described above, DOE has been using awards from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to further facilitate the demonstration and commercial deployment of CCS.

Department of the Interior/U.S. Geological Survey

In March 2009, USGS released a methodology to estimate storage potential that could be applied uniformly to geologic formations across the United States. The methodology is intended to be used for assessments at scales ranging from regional to subbasinal, in which storage assessment units are defined on the basis of common geologic and hydrologic characteristics. The methodology does not apply to site-specific evaluation of storage resources or capacity. Calculations of subsurface pore volume for potential CO2 storage have been described in a number of publications. The methodology in this report uses fully probabilistic methods to incorporate geologic uncertainty in calculations of storage potential. Read more about the DOI’s CCS initiatives.

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