EPA unveils carbon capture regulations

Regulations issued Thursday would ease the path toward technology needed to allow new coal-fired power plants to operate in the face of President Obama’s effort to tackle climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency said.

A final rule unveiled by the EPA is designed to remove potential obstacles in the implementation of carbon capture and sequestration (CSS) technologies, without which coal plants will be unable to meet emission standards proposed by the agency.

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“Carbon capture and sequestration technology can help us reduce carbon pollution and move us toward a cleaner, more stable environment,” said Mathy Stanislaus, EPA assistant administrator for Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “Today’s rule provides regulatory clarity to help facilitate the implementation of this technology in a safe and responsible way.”

The EPA’s draft carbon pollution emissions standards for new power plants were published earlier this year and stand as a major pillar of Obama’s global warming initiative.

Industry groups and congressional Republicans have blasted the regulations as a “war on coal,” since plants could not meet the standards without installing unproven and costly carbon capture systems to combat emissions.

The administration has defended the technology, which involves capturing carbon emissions before it spews out of plants and injecting it underground for long-term storage. The process is known as geologic sequestration.


The rule finalized Thursday creates a “consistent national framework” to facilitate the technology, including language that exempts the carbon streams pumped underground from the EPA’s hazardous waste regulations.

The rule also clarifies that the EPA does not expect to deem sequestration a waste management activity, which would subject the practices to other regulations.

The agency also issued draft guidance explaining the process for transitioning wells used to inject carbon dioxide for oil and gas development into wells used for carbon capture and sequestration.

Members of the public and interested parties have 75 days to comment on the guidance.