Fossil Fuels

Published on May 29th, 2010 | by Susan Kraemer


First US State to Codify Law for Carbon Sequestration is Wyoming

May 29th, 2010 by  

Wyoming could be the first state to develop a comprehensive set of legal rules dealing with carbon sequestration risk. Before we begin carbon sequestration projects, say lawmakers in the state, we need to get some fundamental legal rights and responsibilities clear.


Which land owner can prevent a carbon sequestration project from taking place under their land – the mineral rights owner, or the surface land owner? Which owner is legally responsible for the storage? How about in 100 years? Which governmental entity should oversee best practices and enforce potential liability in carbon sequestration – and how can that department be funded to do the job adequately?

Now that several CCS pilot projects are under way, and with future limits on greenhouse gases inevitable – using either the unpopular carrots and sticks of cap and trade in APA, or the even more unpopular sticks-only regulation by EPA – other states with significant coal industries like Montana and South Dakota are following Wyoming’s efforts closely as they consider how to draw up their own rules.

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, which is currently in charge of overseeing most aspects of carbon sequestration projects, will bring draft rules on carbon sequestration before the state Environmental Quality Council in July.

Already this year, state legislators passed a precursor bill that requires that landowners be notified of carbon sequestration proposals and mandates that carbon sequestration project operators have liability insurance and provide financial assurances to get a sequestration permit. At the very least, they will have to pay a permit fee to the state, which is to go towards monitoring carbon sequestration projects.

The proposed rules spell out the process and standards for obtaining a carbon sequestration permit, including detailed application requirements, proving a pore space can sequester carbon dioxide, and an extensive monitoring plan. The draft rules draw from EPA regulations, groundwater protection research and discussions, and existing regulations for hazardous waste wells.

Under the state’s framework, the underground carbon storage space is owned by whoever owns the surface rights above it.

The exception? In any dispute over a particular pore space, the owner of the mineral rights on that land will have priority over the owner of the surface rights.

Image: America’s Power

Source: Wyoming Trib

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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.

  • Hi Susan,

    Sorry to be so slow replying. The short answer is, we don’t know.


  • We looked into what Wyoming was proposing last year and made some recommendations about what should be included in a carbon sequestration statute.

    Kelly Fuller

    Communications Director

    Plains Justice (a public-interest law and policy center serving the northern plains)

    • Interesting, thanks for the additional info. Do you think they will adopt any of your thoughts?

  • origo

    Why are those in the U.S. Congress providing $4 billion to develop carbon dioxide sequestration technology when that will serve only to prolong our dependence on carbon fuels? the answer is that carbon sequestration technology has not been fully developed.

    Carbon sequestration will be another environmental potential disaster waiting to happen. A sudden massive release of pressurized carbon dioxide will suffocate all animal life within the area of the release. Remember, carbon dioxide is heavier than air.

    How many more BP-type oil spills, fly ash spills [TVA in 2008], Three Mile Islands and Chernobyls must we endure before we reach a catastrophic environmental point of no return?

    Ironically, oil in the Gulf is floating on top of the very answer to our energy independence! Water is our only source of renewable fuel available in the huge quantities needed to supplant gasoline.

    Why can’t Congress use that $4 billion to develop vehicle onboard water-splitting systems so that we can achieve total energy independence from fossil fuels now—not sometime in the future? No carbon dioxide emissions from water means no need for carbon dioxide sequestration.

    Water requires no exploration, drilling, refining, mining, transportation, service stations, or disposal of fly ash or nuclear waste. It is non-flammable; recyclable; and consumes no atmospheric oxygen.

    Water is easily split into hydrogen and oxygen with any of several available photocatalyts, using sunlight, and electric lighting at night, to power the process aboard motor vehicles equipped with hydrogen internal combustion engines, or equipped with fuel cells and electric motors. Larger, stationary fuel cells can generate electricity for individual businesses or homes.

    Solar, wind and geothermal are great sources of non-carbon energy, but they are stationary. We need a portable, onboard water-splitting technology now. Electric vehicles that depend upon batteries charged from stationary sources may be but an interim solution until water dissociation systems for vehicles are developed. These systems would obviate the need for a nationwide hydrogen or battery recharging infrastructure to support a technology that would become obsolete in the not too distant future.


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