On March 31, 2011, a bill (S 699) was introduced in the US Senate that would authorize the US Department of Energy (DOE) to enter into cooperative agreements to provide financial and technical assistance to as many as 10 large-scale (1 million tons of injected carbon dioxide or more) carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration projects at industrial sources. Along with three co-sponsors, Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) introduced the bi-partisan bill and it was referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. This is the first step in the legislative process and it’s likely that the next step will be a public hearing on the proposal.

The proposed bill provides liability protection and federal indemnification for the CCS demonstration projects. Under the bill, DOE is authorized to indemnify projects up to $10 billion for personal, property and environmental damages that might be above what is covered by insurance or other financial assurance measures. Upon receiving the closure certificate for the injection site, the site may be turned over to the federal government for long-term site management and ownership. The proposed bill also outlines criteria for site closure certification and includes provisions for siting the demonstration projects on public land. In addition, it would establish and fund a CCS training program for state regulators.

By the way, this new proposed legislation (S. 699) is extremely similar to a 2009 bill (S. 1013) that was reported out of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources but died on the Senate floor as part of a larger energy legislative package that same year.