The Wyoming Senate approved three carbon storage bills, HB 57, HB 58 and HB 80, all of which are focused on clarifying issues related to property rights and liability.

HB 57 would amend a Wyoming statute that currently states that a surface owner is presumed to own the geologic pore space below the surface and add a provision indicating that mineral rights owners can prevent CO2 injections that would interfere with their rights. The effect of HB 58 would be to clarify: (1) that ownership of, and liability for, injected CO2 will be presumed to remain with the CCS operator; and (2) that pore space owners will not be liable for the effects of injected CO2 solely by virtue of their property interest or by their having given consent to the injection. That is, if the pore space owner does not conduct the injection but, rather, allows another to perform the injection, the pore space owner will not be liable for the effects of the CO2. Finally, HB 80 would allow for the unitization of geologic pore space for the purposes of CCS; if the persons holding 75-80 percent of the interest in a particular pore space consent, the Wyoming Oil & Gas Commission may issue an order allowing injection into that pore space (which would effectively overcome the objections of resistant interest holders). The order would have to provide equitable compensation to all persons holding an interest in affected pore space. Additionally, the CCS operator would have to acquire separately the surface rights needed to establish the CCS operation, e.g., to construct injection facilities.

Before the bills are up for final approval, they will move to a House-Senate Conference committee that will address minor changes that the Senate made to the legislation.