Carbon Sequestration: More Than Just Sweeping CO2 Under Our Nation’s Carpet?

Last week, sassy environmental news website Grist drew attention to a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) report on carbon capture and storage (CCS) potential across the United States. The report was the third edition of an “Atlas” that aims to map out the location and capacity of possible geologic carbon storage sites.

The DOE report focuses on geologic sequestration, which, as opposed to terrestrial sequestration (the less technical removal of CO2 in the atmosphere by plants), involves “separation and capture of CO2 at the point of emissions, the transportation of CO2, and the storage of CO2 in deep, underground geologic formations.” DOE is currently researching five types of underground formations as candidates for permanent geologic carbon storage: (1) saline formations; (2) oil and gas reservoirs; (3) unmineable coal areas; (4) organic-rich shales; and (5) basalt formations.

DOE, with the help of regional partners, has identified an estimated 292 billion to 3,497 billion tons in geologic carbon storage beneath leasable federal lands. And this federal storage makes up only 15 percent of the storage presented in the report. With estimated annual CO2 emissions of 3,748 million tons from stationary sources (such as power plants), Grist has calculated 5,700 years of storage potential across the various eligible underground geologic formations.

The potential may be astounding, but the reality is still catching up. According to the EPA, while underground injection of CO2 has long been used for other purposes, CO2 injection for geologic sequestration involves different technical issues due to potentially larger volumes of CO2 and larger scale projects. With that in mind, the EPA recently finalized rules (Subpart RR–Geologic Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide) requiring reporting from facilities that conduct geologic sequestration. The data collected from such reports will help the EPA track the CO2 sequestered by these facilities and “inform Agency decisions under the Clean Air Act related to the use of CCS for mitigating GHG emissions.”

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Want to see which public companies have CCS on the brain? Visit knowledgemosaic’s SEC Filings search page, and do a text search for the phrase carbon sequestration.

Image by Climate Analysis ... Some rights reserved.

One response to this post.

  1. […] have posted previously on the potential for carbon sequestration in the US. Our post earlier this month covered a Department of Energy report on carbon capture and storage potential in […]

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