Geologic Carbon Sequestration Schematic (EPA)
EPA has issued final Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations to conditionally exclude carbon dioxide (CO2) streams in geologic sequestration activities from the definition of hazardous waste.
On January 3, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued final revisions for hazardous waste management under RCRA to conditionally exclude CO2 streams from the definition of hazardous waste if they are injected into Underground Injection Control Class VI wells for geologic sequestration and meet certain additional conditions. EPA proposed the regulation in August 2011 after determining that CO2 streams managed under certain conditions would not pose substantial health and environmental risks and hence, additional regulations pursuant to RCRA hazardous waste management would be unnecessary.
Among the key revisions, EPA amended the condition for CO2 transportation in compliance with Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements by adding reference to applicable state pipeline regulations in certain situations. Some states have DOT-certified rules to regulate transportation of supercritical CO2 while others are directly regulated by DOT for interstate and intrastate pipelines. The amendment refers to compliance with state-administered regulations to reflect situations where pipeline facilities must comply with state rather than federal regulation.
Geologic sequestration, a vital component of Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS), is the process of injecting CO2 captured from power plants and other emission sources into subsurface rock formations to permanently isolate CO2. CCS involves three steps: capture and compression of CO2 from emission sources, transportation of captured CO2 as supercritical stream via pipelines to injection site, and underground injection for the purpose of sequestration.
EPA expects the revisions to substantially reduce uncertainty associated with identifying CO2 streams under RCRA and increase regulatory certainty to facilitate deployment of geologic sequestration technologies. The final rule applies to generators, transporters, and facilities engaged in treatment, storage, and disposal of CO2 streams that would otherwise fall under RCRA’s hazardous waste category. It aims to overcome potential barriers to implementation of CCS technology without which coal-fired power plants cannot meet upcoming CO2 emission standards. The rule will take effect on March 4, 2014.
January 8, 2014 via Energy Solutions Forum.
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