EDF believes that, done right, carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) can be a safe and effective tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We also think it will be a necessary tool – especially for natural gas, which is poised to make up an increasing share of our national energy portfolio.
The environmental community doesn’t have a monolithic view of CCS, though. Some groups are skeptical about its need. Others have concerns about whether it can really work. Fair enough! We welcome debate and opportunities to learn from each other.
There are certain things, though, on which we can all agree. More than 50 organizations recently came together to express our unanimous opposition to a couple of very bad ideas about how CCS projects should be treated – ideas that could lead to sloppy projects and put public health and the environment at risk.
The first is so-called “liability relief.” Believe it or not, on the one-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil-spill disaster, some in the coal and utility industries continue to call for a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for CCS projects. They are basically saying that once a CCS project is sealed up, operators shouldn’t be held responsible if carbon dioxide (CO2) starts to leak or if displace formation fluids pollute ground water. We believe this is a set-up for dangerous short cuts in project planning and implementation. It boggles my mind that, at the same time Congress is struggling to lift liability caps for offshore drilling, anyone would entertain the idea of taking steps that would reduce incentives to properly manage CCS projects.
The second bad idea might be even more perplexing than the first – and we’re especially disappointed that it’s coming from the good folks at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Our environmental watchdogs at the agency are considering a proposal to exempt CCS projects from hazardous waste requirements under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, our nation’s landmark law that keeps us safe from the most toxic substances. If CO2 streams at CCS projects get this exemption, it will eliminate important protections for clean-ups and remediation and for public participation.
EDF is helping lead the charge against these bad ideas – meeting with members of Congress and agency officials, sounding the alarm with the media, and working with other environmental groups to present a united front. For more details, read our letter to the Administration, and stay tuned to the Energy Exchange.