States are Best Positioned to Regulate Carbon Dioxide Storage, Report Concludes


Contact:  Lawrence Pacheco

States are Best Positioned to Regulate Carbon Dioxide Storage, Report Concludes

Washington, D.C.- States are the logical and best equipped entities to implement and administer regulations for the storage of carbon dioxide (CO2), according to the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) Task Force on Carbon Capture and Geologic Storage.

Lawrence Bengal, Chairman of the IOGCC Task Force, said this framework is critical to moving carbon storage technologies forward, and implementing regulations at the state and federal levels will help the United States reduce its CO2 emissions.

“Following conservation, geologic storage of CO2 is among the most immediate and viable strategies for mitigating the release of CO2 into the atmosphere,” said Bengal. “We envision that the report will result in a substantially consistent system for the geological storage of CO2 regulated at the state and provincial level in conformance with national and international law. Given the proposed long-term care-taker role of the states, they are likely to be the best positioned to provide the necessary cradle to grave regulatory oversight of CO2 storage.”

The IOGCC Task Force, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and its National Energy Technology Laboratory, through a cooperative agreement with the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, has produced for the first time a clear and comprehensive model legal and regulatory framework for the geologic storage of CO2 that meets the unique requirements of each state or Canadian province.

The thirty member states and four Canadian affiliate member provinces of the IOGCC are well suited for regulation of CO2 because of their jurisdiction, experience, and expertise in the regulation of oil and natural gas production, particularly in the use of enhanced oil recovery (EOR), which uses carbon storage.

Scott Anderson, an Energy Policy Specialist for Environmental Defense and an observer to the Task Force deliberations, said that state oil and gas regulators have developed a set of model carbon storage requirements that are thoughtful, rigorous and not a walk in the park for industry.

"The IOGCC model rules will certainly be subject to revision as they are reviewed by more people and as more knowledge about geological sequestration is made. IOGCC's work, however, is a strong, major step forward in the ongoing conversation about how to do carbon sequestration right,” said Anderson.

The report recommends that states and provinces actively solicit public involvement in the process as early as possible and that the process is as transparent as possible. In addition the report stresses that CO2, which is generally considered safe and non-toxic, be viewed in a manner that allows beneficial uses of CO2 following removal from regulated emission streams. Contaminants and pollutants such as hydrogen sulfide, nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide should remain regulated for public health and safety and other environmental concerns, the report says.

Additionally, the Task Force has proposed a two-stage Closure Period and Post-Closure Period to deal with long-term monitoring and liability issues. The operator of the storage site would be liable for a period of ten years after the injection site is plugged, unless otherwise designated by the state regulatory agency. At the end of the Closure Period, the liability for ensuring that the site remains a secure storage site during the Post-Closure Period would transfer to the state. A trust fund that is industry-funded and state administered would provide the necessary oversight during the Post-Closure Period. The trust fund would be funded by an injection fee assessed to the Carbon Storage Project operator and calculated on a per ton basis.

The Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, created in 1935, works to establish effective state and provincial regulation of the oil and natural gas industry.

The IOGCC is a multi-state government agency that promotes the conservation and efficient recovery of domestic oil and natural gas resources while protecting health, safety, and the environment. Established by the charter member states’ governors in 1935, it is the oldest, largest and most effective interstate compact in the nation.