Archive for August, 2009

Vermont Environmental Law Journal to publish OELC article, “Reconciling King Coal and Climate Change: A Regulatory Framework for Carbon Capture and Storage” in Fall issue.

Ironically the major impediments to the widespread deployment of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) are not scientific or technological barriers, but legal and regulatory. Federal regulations and state common law do not contemplate the infinite geologic storage of gas; which necessarily would be required to prevent the gas from escaping and contributing to climate change.

There is no precedent for many of the property law questions that would arise: conflicts between owners of the surface, mineral, and adjacent estates; or subsurface trespass claims resulting from “migration” of CO2 underground. Further, the infinite storage of CO2 creates many liability issues, including the question of infinite liability for parties who undertake CSS.

We explain how the current patchwork of state and federal regulations, most of which were drafted to regulate natural gas storage and transport or small-scale CO2 injections in oil recovery operations, are inadequate for large-scale CO2 injection and storage.  We evaluate the few existing CCS bills, introduced in Wyoming and Kansas, and model legislation proposed by the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Association (IOGCC).

Finally, expanding on these existing models, we provide our own legislative recommendations to clarify property rights questions and provide for government assumption of long-term liability.  Our goal for this article is to help create an effective regulatory framework that will allow CCS technology to develop and flourish and, ultimately, be used as a way to sequester GHG pollution worldwide.

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