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co2from_stack2The coal mining state of Montana has adopted North America’s first law on carbon capture and storage.

Bill SB0498.05,  an Act Regulating Carbon Sequestration, was signed into law last week.

Unsurprisingly, Montana is anxious to facilitate carbon sequestration, since it is probably the only technology that will allow us to continue to burn coal. To facilitate carbon capture and storage projects in geologic reservoirs, the new Act has several key provisions:

  1. carbon dioxide injection wells will have special permits issued by the Montana Board of Oil and Gas, a mining-friendly regulator;
  2. carbon dioxide injection wells will not require groundwater permits from the Department of Environmental Quality, even though carbon dioxide leaks could have serious adverse effects upon groundwater resources;
  3. short-term liability for carbon dioxide leaks must be covered by a performance bond;
  4. 15 years after the last injection,  if the project is in good condition and the carbon dioxide is “stable”, the project can be certified as “complete”;

well operators can then transfer all remaining liability to the state, in exchange for having paid a fee for each ton of carbon dioxide injected.

There are also numerous associated rules, such as the requirement for an inventory of abandoned wells that might have punctured the reservoirs.

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