Regulation Database – Carbon Capture and Sequestration

On December 10, 2010, EPA published the Federal Requirements under the Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program for Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Geologic Sequestration (GS) Wells Final Rule. This action finalizes minimum Federal requirements under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) for underground injection of CO2 for the purpose of geologic sequestration (GS). This final rule applies to owners or operators of wells that will be used to inject CO2 into the subsurface for the purpose of long-term storage. It establishes a new class of well, Class VI, and sets minimum technical criteria for the permitting, geologic site characterization, area of review (AoR) and corrective action, financial responsibility, well construction, operation, mechanical integrity testing (MIT), monitoring, well plugging, post-injection site care (PISC), and site closure of Class VI wells for the purposes of protecting underground sources of drinking water (USDWs). The rule is designed to ensure consistency in permitting underground injection of CO2 at GS operations across the United States and is intended to ensure that sequestered gas does not contaminate groundwater supplies.  The Class VI well standards require, among other things, that site owners provide financial assurances to cover liability from potential contamination for as long as fifty years after closure of the site (with flexibility to shorten the requirement on a case-by-case basis). The elements of this rulemaking are based on the existing Underground Injection Control (UIC) regulatory framework, with modifications to address the unique nature of CO2 injection for GS.

On September 15, 2011, EPA announced that it will directly implement the UIC Program nationally. This means that states and potential owners or operators of CO2 GS wells must submit all permit applications to the appropriate EPA Region in order for a Class VI permit to be issued.  The announcement came on the heels of the expiration of a 270-day period, mandated by the SDWA, during which states were invited to apply to EPA for authorization to process and issue these permits at the state level.  EPA did not receive any such applications during the 270-day period, and assumed Class VI permitting functions in order to ensure that the permitting program can commence as expeditiously as possible.  Direct Federal implementation of the final Class VI requirements will remain in effect until such time as EPA approves a  state-submitted plan to take over Class VI permitting responsibilities from EPA.

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Class VI Guidance Documents:

On December 1, 2010 EPA issued a final rule regarding the Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases: Injection and Geological Sequestration of CO2.  This regulation is a supplement to EPA’s rule for mandatory reporting of greenhouse gases (GHGs).  Known as “Subpart RR,” this rule requires that sequestration and injection site owners develop monitoring, reporting, and verification plans, and annually report quantities of carbon dioxide injected or sequestered.  The rule does not require control of GHGs, only monitoring and reporting.

EPA has since promulgated multiple technical revisions amending specific provisions of the reporting regulations, including certain provisions in Subpart RR.  These amendments have not altered the basic reporting requirements.

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Supporting Documents:

In August 2011, EPA proposed to revise the regulations for hazardous waste management under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) to conditionally exclude hazardous carbon dioxide streams from the definition of hazardous waste, where such streams are captured from emission sources and injected into Class VI wells for carbon sequestration.  EPA published the final rule in January 2014, to be effective in March 2014.

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