EPA Exempts Carbon Dioxide Injection From RCRA Hazardous Waste Regulations

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By Andrew Childers

Dec. 19 --The Environmental Protection Agency is issuing a final rule that will exempt carbon dioxide streams captured from power plants and industrial sources and injected underground for geologic sequestration from federal hazardous waste regulations.

The agency did not make the text of the final rule available Dec. 19.

The EPA said carbon dioxide injected into Class VI wells approved for geological sequestration under the Safe Drinking Water Act does not present a substantial risk to human health or the environment and should be exempted from regulation under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

The final rule provides the regulatory framework necessary for large industrial sources such as power plants to deploy carbon capture and sequestration systems, the agency said.

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

Class VI carbon sequestration wells are subject to recent regulations under the Safe Drinking Water Act that require them to be appropriately sited, constructed, tested, monitored and closed to prevent groundwater contamination (75 Fed. Reg. 77,230).

The EPA said its final rule is intended to complement that regulation.

The EPA proposed the rule in 2011, and the White House Office of Management and Budget completed its review of the final rule in October .

EPA Releases Draft Guidance

The EPA also released for comment draft guidance on transitioning Class II wells that are used to inject carbon dioxide for oil and gas development to Class VI wells used for carbon capture and sequestration.

According to the draft guidance, operators of Class II wells would be required to apply for and obtain Class VI permits for theirs wells if Underground Injection Control Program directors determine there is increased risk to underground drinking water supplies.

The EPA will accept comment on the draft guidance until March 1, 2014. Comments should be sent to GSRuleGuidanceComments@epa.gov.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Childers in Washington at achilders@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl in Washington at lpearl@bna.com

Information on the final rule will be made available at http://www.epa.gov/wastes/nonhaz/industrial/geo-sequester/.

The EPA's draft guidance is available at http://water.epa.gov/type/groundwater/uic/class6/upload/epa816p13004.pdf.

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