Rulemaking - Carbon Dioxide Sequestration Rule
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is not normally considered a waste under the hazardous waste regulations. CO2 may be captured from emission sources like power plants and industrial operations. Captured CO2 that is injected in underground injection control wells solely for the purpose of long-term storage is considered by EPA to be a "discarded material," and thus a waste, and potentially a hazardous waste. A CO2 stream routed through a pipeline for injection into the ground becomes a hazardous waste if the concentration of one or more hazardous constituents within the stream exceeds certain levels. There is a great deal of uncertainty as to whether and how often carbon dioxide streams from power plants and industrial sources would be considered a hazardous waste.
Conditions of EPA's Rule
On January 3, 2014, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the Conditional Exclusion for Carbon Dioxide Streams in Geologic Sequestration Activities Rule that excludes carbon dioxide streams from being classified as hazardous waste under the following conditions:
- The CO2 streams must be captured from emission sources and injected into Underground Injection Control (UIC) Class VI wells. In other words, the CO2 streams must be stored through geological sequestration.
- Transportation of these CO2 streams must comply with US Department of Transportation requirements, as well as pipeline safety guidelines put forth by applicable individual state authorities.
- Injection of the CO2 streams must be in compliance with applicable requirements for Class VI UIC wells, including requirements put forth in 40 CFR parts 144 and 146.
- No other hazardous wastes can me mixed, or co-injected, with the CO2 streams.
- Any generator who claims that their CO2 stream is excluded from being classified as hazardous waste must sign the certification statement as follows: "I certify under penalty of law that the carbon dioxide stream that I am claiming to be excluded under 40 CFR 261.4(h) has not been mixed with hazardous wastes, and I have transported the carbon dioxide stream in compliance with (or have contracted with a pipeline operator or transporter to transport the carbon dioxide stream in compliance with) Department of Transportation requirements, including the pipeline safety laws (49 U.S.C. 60101 et seq.) and regulations (49 CFR Parts 190-199) of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the pipeline safety regulations adopted and administered by a state authority pursuant to a certification under 49 U.S.C. 60105, as applicable, for injection into a well subject to the requirements for the Class VI Underground Injection Control Program of the Safe Drinking Water Act."
- Any owner or operator must sign the certification statement as follows:
"I certify under penalty of law that the carbon dioxide stream that I am claiming to be excluded under 40 CFR 261.4(h) has not been mixed with, or otherwise co-injected with, hazardous waste at the Underground Injection Control (UIC) Class VI permitted facility, and that injection of the carbon dioxide stream is in compliance with the applicable requirements for UIC Class VI wells, including the applicable requirements in 40 CFR Parts 144 and 146."
Costs and Benefits
- In a rule assessment put out by the EPA's Economics and Risk Analysis Staff, it was stated that compliance costs for this rule exclusion were "negligible compared to overall cost savings" and weren't discussed further. Overall annualized cost savings amounted to about $4.3 to 6.2 million, which leads to the final rule being classified as not an economically significant action.
- The rule helps to further establish the framework for future carbon storage technology. As stated in the Assessment, "…this final rule represents a step toward establishing a supporting regulatory framework for the future development and deployment of carbon capture sequestration (CCS) technology. The rule will help provide the regulatory certainty needed to foster industry adoption of carbon capture and sequestration."
- Adoption of the rule will clear up some uncertainty when dealing with defining and managing the CO2 streams, which will in turn eliminate uncertainty in obtaining permits needed for geological sequestration.
Technology in Practice
Many states are currently in the process of developing small and large scale field tests. At present, there are no active Carbon Capture and Storage programs in New York state.
- Decatur, Illinois: In 2011 the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium began the Illinois Basin - Decatur Project (link leaves DEC's website). The goal of the project was to inject 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from a nearby ethanol plant into a saline formation 7,000 feet below ground. The group met their goal by the end of 2014 and stated that their array of monitoring equipment confirms that the CO2 has remained contained.
- PCOR Partnership: Covers carbon storage projects in Canada and the US. They have projects that anticipate injection and projects that have already injected CO2. The consensus on the projects that have already injected CO2 seems to be that CO2 can be permanently injected and stored safely through geological sequestration.
- Projects include:
- Zama Field Validation Test, Alberta, Canada: 93 million tons of CO2 through May 2012.
- Northwest Mcgreggor Field Validation Test, North Dakota: 440 tons.
Request for Comment
DEC is interested in information, data, and comments about adopting this conditional exclusion.
Please submit all information, data, or comments by:
Email: [email protected]
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
RCRA Compliance and Technical Support Section
Albany, NY 12233-7256