By DAN REYNOLDS, senior editor of Risk & Insurance®
A task force anchored at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh has issued a series of recommendations on how the U.S. government should proceed in the area of carbon sequestration.
What's known as the CCSReg project is a collaboration between CMU, the University of Minnesota, Vermont Law School and the law firm of Van Ness Feldman. CCSReg is funded by a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
In July and August, CCSReg issued a series of policy briefs that were meant as suggested guidelines for legislation that would govern not only the physical act of sequestration but the liabilities extending from it.
The policy briefs include the suggestion that "operating geological sequestration projects should remain subject to liability rules under otherwise applicable state and federal law and should rely on the private insurance market, or mutual insurance, for risk management."
Among other measures, CCSReg calls for legislation from the U.S. Congress that would create a Federal Geologic Sequestration Board to approve and accept responsibility for all geological sequestration, or GS, sites--areas where industrial CO2 would be pumped into porous geological formations a half-mile deep or more.
"Permits for the operation of GS projects should be issued under a version of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Underground Injection Control regime that has been explicitly expanded by new federal legislation to address the broader range of issues raised by GS activity," wrote the authors of the CCSReg policy brief in July.
Members of CCSReg said that the U.S. Congress should also amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to direct UIC regulators to promulgate rules that will "address all environmental, health and safety issues associated with GS; are principally based on adaptive, performance-based standards, as opposed to design standards; and include mechanisms to balance and resolve conflicts between multiple environmental objectives."
Those standards should also be put in place for any pipelines built to carry carbon to the sites where it would be injected into the ground.
Once an injection project is complete and regulators determine that the project meets established standards and does not present unreasonable health, safety or environmental risks, it should be transferred to a federal stewardship program, the CCSReg policy authors stated.
The project collaborators state on the CCSReg Web site that, for catastrophic global climate change to be avoided in coming decades, CO2 emissions into the atmosphere will have to be reduced by 80 percent. However, they also state that the global economy will not be able to sustain itself over the next half century without the continued use of fossil fuels.
October 15, 2009
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