Rules Require Reporting of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Regulate Underground Injection of CO2
On November 22, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued final rules for (1) reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from geologic sequestration (GS) and underground injection sites and (2) regulating underground injection of carbon dioxide (CO2). EPA intends this package of rules to prepare for the use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
THE REPORTING RULE
- January 1, 2011 – GS facilities must begin collection of emissions data
- April 30, 2011 – Petitions to delay applicability of mandated monitoring methods due to EPA
- March 31, 2012 – First annual emissions reports due to EPA
Who Must Report?
- Anyone who injects CO2 underground, including for enhanced oil recovery (EOR)
- Anyone using underground formations for storage of CO2
- Research and development (R&D) projects investigating GS for CCS technologies
Unlike other GHG reporting categories, the rule does not establish a threshold for applicability—all sites must report.
Subpart RR covers all GS facilities, and Subpart UU includes all other sites used for underground injection of CO2:
- Under both subparts, affected entities must collect and report information about CO2 quantities received for injection purposes.
- Those reporting under Subpart RR must also develop and implement site-specific monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) plans that:
- Identify potential pathways for CO2 to leak
- Establish boundaries for monitoring zones
- Provide surface leak detection and quantification strategies
- Set baseline for monitoring leakage
- Define mass balance variables
- The estimated cost differential is substantial ($320,000/year for Subpart RR versus $4,000/year for Subpart UU), making it important for companies to understand the criteria that will push a site from UU to RR.
- Also, EPA has not finalized the rule for confidential business information (CBI) the Agency proposed in July 2010. Consequently, this final rule does not address whether any information utilized in determining the quantities of GHG emissions to report will receive CBI treatment.
Getting Ready to Monitor by January 1
What happens if facilities cannot get ready to monitor by January 1 (i.e., in the next five weeks)? Upon EPA approval, facilities may use best available monitoring methods (BAMM) for a portion of 2011. EPA may also consider petitions to extend the use BAMM, and the rule outlines the procedures for obtaining clearance to use BAMM.
THE UNDERGROUND INJECTION CONTROL (UIC) RULE
Who is Regulated?
- Anyone who injects CO2 into underground formations for the purpose of long-term underground storage.
- This includes enhanced recovery wells where the “primary purpose” of the injection becomes longterm storage.
The rule establishes a new class of wells—Class VI—for underground GS sites. It does NOT require any facility to capture and store CO2; rather, it regulates those who choose to do so. Significant elements of the rule include:
- Site characterization before utilizing an underground cavern for GS purposes
- Requirements for construction of Class VI wells
- Project-specific GS management plans, including ongoing testing, monitoring and re-evaluation
- Extended post-injection management of closed GS wells
- Expanded financial responsibility requirements for owners of GS sites
- Transition provisions for wells moving from Class II EOR to Class VI GS status