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State and Regional Control of Geological Carbon Sequestration (Part 1)

April 2011

Citation: ELR 10348

Author: Arnold W. Reitze Jr. and Marie Bradshaw Durrant

In the near future the use of coal may be legally restricted due to concerns over the effects of its combustion on atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. Carbon capture and geologic sequestration offer one method to reduce carbon emissions from coal and other hydrocarbon fuel. While the federal government is providing increased funding for carbon capture and storage, congressional legislative efforts to limit carbon emissions have failed. However, regional and state bodies have taken significant actions both to regulate carbon and to facilitate its capture and storage, addressing the technical and legal problems that must be resolved in order to have a viable carbon storage program. Several regional bodies have formed regulations and model laws that affect carbon capture and storage, and three bodies comprising 23 states have cap-and-trade programs in various stages of development. New state laws are being enacted that encourage carbon storage, and existing state laws affect the liability and viability of carbon storage projects. A subsequent Article will examine specific legislation concerning carbon capture and storage, or the lack of it, in 18 western states.

Arnold W. Reitze Jr. is Professor of Law, S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah, and member of the University of Utah’s Institute for Clean & Secure Energy; J.B. and Maurice Shapiro Professor Emeritus of Environmental Law, The George Washington University. Marie Bradshaw Durrant is an attorney with Holland & Hart in Salt Lake City and a former Legal Fellow with the University of Utah Institute for Clean & Secure Energy.

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