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

The 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, last week issued a comprehensive model for a legal and regulatory framework for the geologic storage of CO2 that it said would meet the unique requirements of each state or Canadian province.

A framework will be 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, said Lawrence Bengal, chairman of the IOGCC task force.

"Following conservation, geologic storage of CO2 is among the most immediate and viable strategies for mitigating the release of CO2 into the atmosphere," Bengal said. "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 caretaker 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 report recommends that states and provinces actively solicit public involvement in the process as early as possible and that the process be as transparent as possible. In addition, the report stresses that CO2, which is generally considered safe and nontoxic, 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 stated.

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 10 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. An industry-funded and state-administered trust fund would provide post-closure oversight. 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 IOGCC said its 30 member states and four Canadian affiliate member provinces 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, which uses carbon storage.

Scott Anderson, an energy policy specialist for Environmental Defense and an observer of the task force deliberations, said the set of model carbon storage requirements are rigorous.

"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," Anderson said. "IOGCC's work, however, is a strong, major step forward in the ongoing conversation about how to do carbon sequestration right."

The full report may be downloaded from the IOGCC website at www.iogcc.state.ok.us/issues_carbon.aspx.

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