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Hazardous Waste Rulemaking - Carbon Dioxide Sequestration Rule

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is not normally considered a waste under the hazardous waste regulations. CO2 may be captured from emission sources like power plants and industrial operations. Captured CO2 that is injected in underground injection control wells solely for the purpose of long-term storage is considered by EPA to be a "discarded material," and thus a waste, and potentially a hazardous waste. There is a great deal of uncertainty as to whether and how often carbon dioxide streams from power plants and industrial sources would be considered a hazardous waste.

Conditions of EPA's Rule

EPA's January 3, 2014 rule (see link at right) would exclude carbon dioxide streams from being classified as hazardous waste under the following conditions:

  • The CO2 streams must be captured from emission sources and injected into Underground Injection Control (UIC) Class VI wells. In other words, the CO2 streams must be stored through geological sequestration.
  • Transportation of these CO2 streams must comply with US Department of Transportation requirements, as well as pipeline safety guidelines put forth by applicable individual state authorities.
  • Injection of the CO2 streams must be in compliance with applicable requirements for Class VI UIC wells, including requirements put forth in 40 CFR parts 144 and 146.
  • No other hazardous wastes can me mixed, or co-injected, with the CO2 streams.
  • Any generator who claims that their CO2 stream is excluded from being classified as hazardous waste must sign the certification statement as follows: "I certify under penalty of law that the carbon dioxide stream that I am claiming to be excluded under 40 CFR 261.4(h) has not been mixed with hazardous wastes, and I have transported the carbon dioxide stream in compliance with (or have contracted with a pipeline operator or transporter to transport the carbon dioxide stream in compliance with) Department of Transportation requirements, including the pipeline safety laws (49 U.S.C. 60101 et seq.) and regulations (49 CFR Parts 190-199) of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the pipeline safety regulations adopted and administered by a state authority pursuant to a certification under 49 U.S.C. 60105, as applicable, for injection into a well subject to the requirements for the Class VI Underground Injection Control Program of the Safe Drinking Water Act."
  • Any owner or operator must sign the certification statement as follows:
    "I certify under penalty of law that the carbon dioxide stream that I am claiming to be excluded under 40 CFR 261.4(h) has not been mixed with, or otherwise co-injected with, hazardous waste at the Underground Injection Control (UIC) Class VI permitted facility, and that injection of the carbon dioxide stream is in compliance with the applicable requirements for UIC Class VI wells, including the applicable requirements in 40 CFR Parts 144 and 146."

Costs and Benefits

  • In a rule assessment put out by the EPA's Economics and Risk Analysis Staff, it was stated that compliance costs for this rule exclusion were "negligible compared to overall cost savings" and weren't discussed further. Overall annualized cost savings amounted to about $4.3 to 6.2 million, which leads to the final rule being classified as not an economically significant action.
  • The rule helps to further establish the framework for future carbon storage technology. As stated in the Assessment, "…this final rule represents a step toward establishing a supporting regulatory framework for the future development and deployment of carbon capture sequestration (CCS) technology. The rule will help provide the regulatory certainty needed to foster industry adoption of carbon capture and sequestration."
  • Adoption of the rule will clear up some uncertainty when dealing with defining and managing the CO2 streams, which will in turn eliminate uncertainty in obtaining permits needed for geological sequestration.

Technology in Practice

Please see "Links Leaving DEC's Website" on the right side of this page for information from EPA and the United States Department of Energy on Carbon Capture and Sequestration.

Many states are currently in the process of developing small and large scale field tests. Currently, there are no active Carbon Capture and Storage programs in New York state.

  • Kevin Dome, Montana: Currently in the process of conducting a large scale carbon storage research project over eight years. Currently in the "site characterization" stage. Actual CO2 injection will take place in 2015. So far, they have determined that Kevin Dome has been storing naturally occurring CO2 successfully for millions of years.
  • PCOR Partnership: Covers carbon storage projects in Canada and the US. They have projects that anticipate injection and projects that have already injected CO2. The consensus on the projects that have already injected CO2 seems to be that CO2 can be permanently injected and stored safely through geological sequestration.
  • Projects include:
    • Zama Field Validation Test, Alberta, Canada: 93 million tons of CO2 through May 2012.
    • Northwest Mcgreggor Field Validation Test, North Dakota: 440 tons.

Issues and Concerns

DEC is interested in information, data and comments about whether or not to adopt the conditional exclusion.