Senate Energy Committee Takes Up Carbon Sequestration Bills

By Published On: February 1, 2008

The U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee took up two bills, S. 2323 and S. 2144, January 31 aimed at establishing a legal framework for employing carbon capture and geological sequestration systems at major power plants and industrial facilities. The systems would cut releases of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere by the facilities. “We who seek to fight climate change must face the reality that, in the foreseeable future, coal isn’t going away,” Senator John Kerry (D-MA) told the panel. “That is why it is critical that we run, not walk, to develop and implement carbon capture and storage technology.” Kerry is sponsoring S. 2323, which would demonstrate three to five carbon capture and sequestration systems on coal-fired power plants and establish a policy framework for the technology. S. 2144, sponsored by Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN), focuses on developing a policy for siting carbon dioxide pipelines between coal power plants and geological sequestration zones. Administration officials noted that their agencies already are conducting studies and laying the groundwork for any needed regulations to make sure that carbon capture and geological sequestration is conducted safely and that project proponents can pursue an orderly permit process. For instance, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is readying a regulatory proposal to be released this summer aimed at protecting groundwater when carbon dioxide is injected. The rules are being developed under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, said Benjamin Grumbles, EPA assistant administrator for water. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chair Joseph Kelliher told that panel that existing pipeline regulations may be adequate to permit carbon dioxide pipelines. In any event, he recommended that the federal government not preempt state authority over siting such pipelines. Editors’ note: For a more detailed version of the carbon sequestration story, please see our sister publication E=MC2 – Energy Meets Climate Challenge. You can find it at www.energymeetsclimate.com.

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