Stoel Rives attorney Eric Martin discussed in GHG Reduction Technologies Monitor the decision by the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management ("BLM") to hold off implementing a follow-up policy for actual development of CO2 storage projects. In December 2011, BLM issued guidance for permitting CO2 sequestration characterization work, like seismic imaging and test CO2 injection wells, on the 264 million acres of surface estate BLM administers. To date, there have been no applications submitted pursuant to the guidance.
Martin, who focuses his practice on permitting and natural resource development, said that a two-phase approach for energy development on federal lands is not uncommon from BLM. "On the positive side, the two-phase process eases the environmental review that's required upfront [for the characterization phase] before any sort of detailed geologic information is available. On the negative side, by not developing a second [development] phase of the process, it increases the risk and creates a disincentive for private entities to actually put their capital at risk and go out and characterize a site on federal land," he said.
Martin noted that the agency is likely waiting for Congress to pass legislation addressing the long-term liability and stewardship of sequestration CO2. Despite these unresolved issues, Martin called the BLM's efforts to open up its land to CO2 storage characterization significant. "Even though there is this large outstanding question about the second-phase of the permitting process, this guidance is important because the BLM has an incredible estimated resource," he said. "It's an immense storage potential, and this is really the first, and a necessary step, towards hopefully taking advantage of this geologic resource that we have."
"BLM Official: No Plans Yet to Allow Private CO2 Storage on Agency Land" was published by GHG Reduction Technologies Monitor, April 20, 2012 (subscription required).
Related Information: Eric Martin will present on this topic at ExchangeMonitor Publications and Forums' Eleventh Annual Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage Conference in Pittsburgh, May 1, 2012. The title of Martin's presentation is "Carbon Sequestration on Federal Land: the BLM Takes the First Step with Site Characterization Permits."