Issue Date: July 28, 2008
EPA Proposes CO2 Injection Rule
A proposal to protect groundwater when carbon dioxide is injected far underground was recently made public by EPA. The proposed regulation creates a new class of injection wells, EPA officials note. Huge amounts of CO2 could be injected underground in the future as part of a national program to cut greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere from coal-fired electric power plants. CO2, the agency notes, is relatively buoyant and corrosive and will be under pressure. CO2 also carries impurities, can become mobile, and is a weak acid when it comes in contact with water. All these traits could encourage movement and contamination of groundwater, but the proposal is vague about protective requirements. For instance, monitoring for migration of CO2 to the atmosphere and to groundwater is left to the determination of federal and state officials who oversee Safe Drinking Water Act programs. Remediation and corrective actions due to CO2 migration are not spelled out, nor are types of materials to be used to seal wells after closure.
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