Yesterday the Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on carbon capture and storage technology. The hearing began with Sen. Bingaman's (D-NM) opening statement in which he said, "The next step in fast-tracking deployment of these technologies is establishing a policy framework that will assist early industry movers in selecting the appropriate geologic storage sites, operation of their facilities, and managing the facilities for decades following the closure of a geologic storage operation." After the testimony of Senators Kerry (D-MA) and Coleman (R-MN) about their carbon capture and storage bills, the remainder of the hearing focused on how to go about establishing a regulatory framework.

Benjamin Grumbles, Assistant Administrator for Water at the U.S. EPA, said in his opening statement that the EPA is fully committed to moving forward with full scale CCS regulations. The final rule on CCS regulations won’t occur until late 2010 or early 2011 due to site characterization, monitoring of wells, closure and post closure of wells, long term liability and the fact they'd like to analyze some demonstration projects.

C. Stephen Allred, Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management at the DOI, also testified. He believes that there is a key to understanding the long term liability issue - you have to first determine who owns the CO2. He believes once the factor of ownership is solved that the liability issue will begin to take shape and can be focused on easier.

The common sentiment at the hearing was that CCS technology is required to fight climate change and the sooner the better. However, everyone seems to realize that there is a long path to ahead before it is commercially viable. With the final rule on CCS regulations not to come until late 2010 at the earliest, some suspect the time line for commercial viability to be no sooner than 2015.