Abstract

In July 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed rule under the authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) regarding the geologic sequestration (GS) of carbon dioxide. The proposed rule recommends the addition of a new class of injection well, Class VI, to EPA’s existing Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program to address the unique nature of carbon dioxide injection and to ensure the protection of underground sources of drinking water (USDWs) from carbon dioxide injection-related activities.

The proposed GS Rule builds upon the existing UIC regulatory framework established under the SDWA. The final rule, anticipated in late 2010 or early 2011, will apply to owners and operators of permitted Class VI injection wells for the subsurface injection of carbon dioxide for long-term underground storage.

States interested in obtaining approval for primary enforcement responsibility ("primacy") for the new Class VI program will apply for primacy to EPA with either a new UIC program application or a UIC program revision (depending on a particular state’s existing UIC primacy status). Any state that chooses not to apply for primacy, or that has not yet received approval for their proposed Class VI program, will have the UIC Class VI program administered by EPA until such time as the state has an approved Class VI program.

EPA is developing multiple technical and programmatic guidance documents for UIC Directors and proposed Class VI injection well owners and operators to assist in meeting the new GS rule requirements. In addition, EPA will be conducting nationwide training workshops for UIC Directors on primacy application and on the technical and programmatic elements of GS Rule and its implementation. EPA is also planning for a series of webcasts focused on technical aspects of the GS rule for interested owners, operators, field service providers, UIC permit reviewers, and others to be involved in GS activities. EPA anticipates that these guidance documents, implementation tools, trainings, and other outreach efforts will assist Class VI injection well owners and operators, as well as state UIC Directors, in meeting the new GS Rule requirements.

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