Legal & Regulatory

EPA Approves Nation’s First Underground Injection Permits for Carbon Sequestration

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday granted the nation’s first four Class VI underground injection permits for carbon sequestration to the federally backed FutureGen 2.0 carbon-capture-and-storage (CCS) project. 

The Department of Energy formally committed $1 billion to the $1.68 billion project being developed by the FutureGen Industrial Alliance, a coalition of coal producers, users, and equipment suppliers.

The alliance plans to acquire and upgrade one unit of Ameren Energy Resources’ Meredosia Energy Center, near Meredosia, Ill. The repowered 168-MWe unit will include oxycombustion and carbon capture technologies designed to capture at least 90% of its carbon dioxide emissions during “steady state” operation. It is expected to combust a blended mixture of 60% Illinois No. 6 bituminous coal and 40% Powder River Basin sub-bituminous coal.

The captured greenhouse gas would then be transported through a 30-mile pipeline (using existing rights-of-way) to four wells in Morgan County, where it would be injected about 4,000 feet below ground into the Mt. Simon Sandstone, a geologic saline reservoir that is one of the Illinois Basin’s major deep saline formations. The project will be designed to capture, transport, and inject about 1.2 million tons of CO2 annually for 20 years.

The DOE-funded demonstration period would last for 56 months from the start of operations—which is now slated for 2017.

The EPA said it completed a technical review of the permits and responded to over 280 public comments before approval.

FutureGen can begin drilling the four wells (from the same location) next month in preparation for injecting the liquefied carbon dioxide. However, FutureGen must demonstrate the integrity of the wells before injection and conduct extensive monitoring at the location, the EPA said.

Unlike Class I, II, III, IV, and V wells, which are used to inject hazardous and non-hazardous wastes deep into isolated rock formations for industrial or oil and gas applications, Class VI wells are designated specifically for injection of carbon dioxide for long-term storage. The approved permits are the first Class VI permits for carbon sequestration in the U.S.

Sonal Patel, associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)

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