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Project: Regulatory Issues Controlling Carbon Capture and Storage

Research Team: Adam Smith and Howard Herzog

Sponsors: US Department of Energy Award Number DE-FC26-02NT41622

Year: 2004

Climate change is increasingly being recognized by governments, industry, the scientific community, and the public as an issue that must be dealt with.  Parties are pursuing various strategies to reduce CO2 emissions.  Renewable energy, energy efficiency, cleaner fuels, terrestrial CO2 sequestration, and geologic CO2 capture and storage (CCS) are the major efforts underway.

This thesis examines some major regulatory and political issues that may affect geologic sequestration projects in the future.  CCS is a technology system that captures CO2 from a point source (e.g. power plant or industrial facility), pressurizes it into liquid form, transports it, and finally injects it underground into a porous geology for long-term storage.  Technical and economic issues of capture, transportation, and injection of CO2 have been relatively well studied over the past decade.  The impacts of how current environmental regulation and political action to curb climate change will affect CCS have not been thoroughly explored.

This thesis investigates the Environmental Protection Agency’s Underground Injection Control Program and several types of protected and restricted land use areas to evaluate where it would be difficult or impossible to site a CCS project.  I also explore state-level action on climate change and categorize them based on their attractiveness for CCS projects.

I suggest a methodology for incorporating this regulatory information into a geographic information system based decision analysis tool, designed to aid decision makers dealing with CCS.

Smith, A.M., "Regulatory Issues Controlling Carbon Capture and Storage," M.I.T. Masters Thesis, June (2004). <PDF>