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Injection and Geologic Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide: Federal Role and Issues for Congress

CRS Report – Injection and Geologic Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide: Federal Role and Issues for Congress, September 22, 2022: “For several decades, the federal government has funded efforts to explore the feasibility of mitigating the release of greenhouse gases (GHGs) while burning fossil fuels as a source of energy. Carbon capture and storage (CCS)—the process of capturing man made carbon dioxide (CO2) at its source and storing it before its release into the atmosphere—has been proposed as a technological solution for mitigating emissions into the atmosphere while continuing to use fossil energy. Permanent underground carbon storage, known as geologic sequestration, is the long-term containment of a fluid (including gas or liquid CO2) in subsurface geologic formations. CO2 may be injected, and a portion incidentally stored, as part of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations that increase production from aging oil reservoirs. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) leads the federal government’s carbon storage research and development (R&D) as part of the agency’s fossil energy programs. The agency conducts CCS research and carries out public-private partnerships for testing and development of CO2 injection and storage projects. Congress has recently directed DOE to expand its R&D activities to support deployment and commercialization of CCS projects. The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), provides authorities for regulating underground injection of fluids and serves as the framework for regulation of injection of CO2 for geologic sequestration and EOR. The major purpose of the act’s Underground Injection Control (UIC) provisions is to prevent endangerment of underground sources of drinking water from injection activities. EPA has promulgated regulations and established minimum federal requirements for six classes of injection wells…Congress has supported carbon storage via underground injection through recent legislation that directs DOE to expand research, development, and deployment activity and expands the federal tax credit for carbon sequestration. A policy challenge that Congress may face with underground carbon storage is balancing protection of underground sources of drinking water with supporting and encouraging the development of cost-effective CCS technology. Other policy issues of congressional interest may include unresolved liability and property rights issues, overall CCS project cost, public acceptance of these projects and participation in their planning, and the relationship of the growth of underground carbon injection and storage with continuing to burn fossil fuels for generating electricity. In addition, Congress may consider potential health and environmental risks (beyond any related risks to underground sources of drinking water) not addressed by SDWA..”

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