Thursday, January 29, 2009

Scientists propose a way forward on carbon capture

A new report advises the Obama Administration on the regulatory problems posed by pumping CO2 underground.

by Erika Engelhaupt

The U.S. cannot feasibly reduce 50–80% of its CO2 emissions by 2050 without carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology, according to a new interim report by a group of scientists and legal experts. But responsible development of that technology would require a complete overhaul of U.S. environmental regulations, the team concludes.

This test well in Gaylord, Mich., is part of U.S. Department of Energy efforts to develop new technology for storing carbon deep underground. NATIONAL ENERGY TECHNOLOGY LAB

Current regulations, which mainly address the impacts of CCS on drinking water, will not address the need for long-term oversight, the researchers said at a January 9 report briefing in Washington, D.C. The report was written as part of the CCSReg Project, a joint effort by a team of experts led by M. Granger Morgan of Carnegie Mellon University with primary funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Storing CO2 underground raises a host of nagging legal and regulatory questions. How can a developer, such as a utility, demonstrate that a project will be safe and effective? And, who, if anyone, owns the right to pump CO2 into deep underground pore space? In addition, a national CCS program could require building and maintaining about 300,000 miles of pipeline—about the length of current U.S. natural gas pipelines—and that raises issues of property rights and possible eminent domain rulings.

Scientists propose a way forward on carbon capture

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