Carbon capture, sequestration technology usage outlaid in EPA rule

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WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 19, 2013 -- Today, a final rule to help create a consistent national framework ensuring the safe and effective deployment of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies has been issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The new rule clarifies that carbon dioxide streams -- captured from emission sources, injected underground via UIC Class VI wells that are approved for geologic sequestration under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), and meeting certain other conditions (e.g., compliance with applicable transportation regulations) -- will be excluded from EPA's hazardous waste regulations. Further, the Agency clarifies that these wells for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is expected to be an efficient waste management activity.

"Carbon capture and sequestration technology can help us reduce carbon pollution and move us toward a cleaner, more stable environment," said Mathy Stanislaus, EPA assistant administrator for Solid Waste and Emergency Response. "Today's rule provides regulatory clarity to help facilitate the implementation of this technology in a safe and responsible way."

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 EPA concluded that the careful management of carbon dioxide streams under the specified conditions does not present a substantial risk to human health or the environment. Further, the Agency's determination will help provide a clear pathway for the deployment of CCS technologies in an equally manner while also ensuring protection of underground drinking water sources.

Today's rule is complementary to previous EPA rulemakings, including SDWA regulations that ensure the Class VI injection wells are appropriately sited, constructed, tested, monitored, and closed. The EPA is also releasing draft guidance for public comment that provides information regarding transitioning Class II wells used to inject carbon dioxide for oil and gas development to Class VI wells used for carbon capture and sequestration. The comment period for the draft guidance is 75 days.

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