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Pennsylvania to Seek Lead Role in Regulating Carbon Capture Storage Wells

Pennsylvania plans to take the initial steps to regulate carbon capture and sequestration wells, joining several other states that are also seeking “primacy” over their development and operation.

Kurt Klapkowski, acting deputy secretary for oil and gas management at the state Department of Environmental Protection, recently told a state regulatory board that DEP plans to send a letter of intent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to apply for primacy in regulation.

In the meeting of the Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board, Klapkowski acknowledged that the process would not be easy and would take time.

Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) has been done only on a very limited scale and is in its infant stages. However, it is seen as a key strategy to help decarbonize electric generation and heavy industries. It is also an essential part of Pennsylvania’s DNA H2 application for funding under the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for part of $7 billion available for development of clean hydrogen hubs. The hydrogen would be produced from natural gas with the CO2 emissions captured and stored and the energy used to decarbonize an industrial end user under the state’s plan.

Klapkowski said Pennsylvania will seek primacy for Class VI injection wells, which are used to inject captured carbon dioxide into deep rock formations for long-term storage. There are only a few permitted Class VI injection wells in the U.S. and they are regulated by the EPA. The application process for such a well is years long, and in addition, Pennsylvania requires its own permit. By achieving primacy, the administrative red tape would be reduced and the permitting time would potentially be shortened.

Only Wyoming and North Dakota now have primacy over Class VI wells, while West Virginia is one of four states that has applications pending for well primacy. Ohio is also in the process of applying for primacy for Class VI wells.

Klapkowski said the state may also seek primacy for other classes of injection wells, including Class II wells. Class II wells are used to for storage of produced water from oil and gas well operations, as well as for enhanced recovery of oil and gas from old wells by injecting CO2 into them.

Carbon capture and sequestration has the potential to help significantly reduce carbon emissions, but faces a steep development curve. The federal government has available $2.5 billion in funding for up to six CCS projects to rapidly advance the technology.

To learn more about the clean hydrogen hub effort and CCS, click here to read the final report summarizing the information presented at the “Harnessing Hydrogen: Exploring Local and Regional Opportunities in Appalachia” symposium hosted by the Center for Energy Policy and Management.

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