EPA Begins Sketching Carbon Capture and Storage Framework

EPA Begins Sketching Carbon Capture and Storage Framework

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday began etching the regulatory framework for the underground storage of carbon dioxide.

Capturing carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants and injecting it deep in the earth is touted by many as a potential weapon against climate change.

The proposed rule aims to protect drinking water and is geared toward companies that own or operate the underground wells. Requirements call for underground wells to be properly located, constructed, tested, monitored and safely closed.

The draft rule proposed Tuesday also is meant to lend "regulatory certainty" to the market to drive the adoption of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). "Today's proposal paves the way for technologies that would protect public health and help reduce the effects of climate change," EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson said in a statement.

Estimates suggest there is enough geologic space in the U.S. to store more than 3,000 gigatons of CO2, enough to store emissions from nearly 1,000 coal-fired power plants for a millenium. CCS, however, is in its infancy and not practiced on a broad scale in the U.S.

The European Union is testing several projects and on Wednesday gave Norway additional funds for an experimental CCS project at a gas-fired power plant. The Alberta government in Canada said last week it will spend $2 billion on major CCS projects.

Other countries pursuing CCS include Australia, United Kingdom and Japan. By 2012, the global CCS market could top $236 billion, according to a report from BCC Research.