Community Acceptance of Carbon Capture and Sequestration Infrastructure: Siting Challenges
Community Acceptance of Carbon Capture and
Sequestration Infrastructure: Siting Challenges
July 29, 2008
Paul W. Parfomak
Specialist in Energy and Infrastructure
Resources, Science, and Industry Division
Community Acceptance of Carbon Capture and
Sequestration Infrastructure: Siting Challenges
Congressional policy makers are becoming aware that a national program of
carbon capture and sequestration could require an extensive new network of carbon-
related infrastructure. Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is a three-part process
involving a carbon dioxide (CO2) source facility, CO2 pipelines, and a permanent
CO2 sequestration site. A key consideration in the development of such infrastructure
is community acceptance, which may ultimately determine whether, where, and how
anticipated CCS projects may be built. Although the general public is still largely
unfamiliar with CCS, there are early indications that community acceptance may
prove a significant challenge to the siting of CCS infrastructure in the United States.
Recent federal statutes and legislative proposals related to CO2 control have
only obliquely addressed public acceptance of CO2 infrastructure or related siting
issues. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-140) requires
a report recommending procedures for “public review and comment” and protection
of “the quality of natural and cultural resources” related to the siting of sequestration
projects on public land. The Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008 (S.
3036) would require a CCS construction feasibility study examining “any barrier or
potential barrier ... including any technical, siting, financing, or regulatory barrier”
relating to the development of CO2 pipelines or geological sequestration sites for
CCS. The Carbon Capture and Storage Technology Act of 2007 (S. 2323) would
fund CCS demonstration projects in locations that “represent a range of population
densities” and are “in close proximity to ... utilities and industrial settings.”
Community acceptance studies in the United States and other developed
countries are limited and based largely on hypothetical CCS scenarios and
infrastructure choices. The research available suggests that the public is ambivalent
towards CCS. At the policy level, this ambivalence may cause concern among
legislators seeking to promote carbon control strategies that could impose significant
costs on local communities or the U.S. economy overall. At the project level, this
ambivalence may become outright opposition as community residents incorporate
local considerations in their evaluation of a proposed CCS development.
If carbon control and associated CCS policies were narrowly targeted, or
expected to have only marginal impacts on the U.S. energy sector, Congress might
choose to defer consideration of community acceptance issues until CCS
technologies were more mature and states had more time to work out CCS siting
problems. But understanding public acceptance of CCS takes on greater urgency in
light of proposals to curb CO2 emissions quickly and the scale of CCS infrastructure
required to do so. The most prominent CO2 proposals in the 110th Congress seek
reductions of nationwide CO2 emissions to 1990 levels or lower by 2030. Given such
goals for reducing U.S. emissions of CO2, and the potential contribution of CCS to
reaching them, the issue of community acceptance of CCS infrastructure may prove
In troduction ......................................................1
Public Acceptance of CCS Technology.................................4
Community Acceptance of CCS Infrastructure...........................6
Power Plants with CO2 Controls..................................6
Plant Site Area............................................7
CO2 Pipelines for CCS.........................................10
CO2 Pipeline Safety.......................................12
CO2 Pipeline Siting Opposition..............................12
Pipelines vs. Power Lines..................................14
Carbon Sequestration Sites.....................................14
Oil and Gas Property Rights................................15
Eminent Domain for Natural Gas Storage......................19
Key Policy Issues for Congress......................................20
Community Acceptance and State Statutory Changes.................21
Affecting Public Acceptance of CCS..............................22
Federal Siting Authority for CCS................................25
Siting Challenges for CCS Alternatives...........................26
Community Acceptance of CCS in Perspective.........................27
Community Acceptance of Carbon Capture
and Sequestration Infrastructure: Siting
Congress is considering policies to reduce U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide, a
major contributor to global warming. These policies include promoting the capture
and sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2) from manmade sources such as electric
power plants and manufacturing facilities. Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS)
is a three-part process involving a CO2 source facility, an intermediate mode of CO2
transportation (pipelines), and a permanent CO2 sequestration site. CCS is of great
interest because emerging technologies may be able to remove up to 95% of CO2
emitted from an electric power plant or other industrial source. Power plants are the
most likely initial candidates for CCS because they are predominantly large,
single-point sources, and they contribute approximately one-third of U.S. CO2
emissions from fossil fuels.
As U.S. carbon policies evolve, congressional policy makers are becoming
aware that a national CCS program could require an extensive new network of CO2-
related infrastructure. In the 110th Congress, there has been considerable debate and
legislative activity related to the technical, economic, and regulatory aspects of such
infrastructure. Another key consideration, however, is public acceptance, which may
ultimately determine whether, where, and how anticipated CCS projects may be
constructed. Although the general public is still largely unfamiliar with CCS, there
are early indications that — similar to the siting of other kinds of energy and
industrial infrastructure — community acceptance may prove a significant challenge
to the siting of CCS infrastructure in the United States.
Recent federal statutes and legislative proposals related to CO2 control have
only obliquely addressed public acceptance of CO2 infrastructure or related siting
issues. One provision in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (P.L.
110-140), for example, requires a report recommending procedures for “public
review and comment” and protection of “the quality of natural and cultural
resources” related to the siting of sequestration projects on public land (Sec.
714(b)(3)). The Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008 (S. 3036) would
require a CCS construction feasibility study examining “any barrier or potential
barrier ... including any technical, siting, financing, or regulatory barrier” relating to
the development of CO2 pipelines or geological sequestration sites for CCS (Sec.
would fund CCS demonstration projects in locations that “represent a range of
population densities” and are “in close proximity to ... utilities and industrial
settings” (Sec. 3(d)). Other legislative proposals for carbon control have no apparent
provisions relating to public acceptance.
This report discusses the possible role public and community acceptance may
play in the siting of CO2 infrastructure for CCS. The report reviews what is known
about public opinion of CCS as an overall strategy to combat climate change. The
report examines community acceptance of CO2 emissions controls, pipelines, and
sequestration sites based on analogies, CO2 experience, and focused research. It also
discusses community acceptance issues related to selected alternatives to CCS
policies, such as investment in renewable energy infrastructure and nuclear power.
The report introduces key CCS policy considerations as Congress continues to
evaluate opportunities and requirements for carbon control.
Public acceptance has long posed challenges to energy infrastructure
development in the United States. A lack of public acceptance is often cited, for
example, as one reason why no oil refineries have been constructed in the United
States since 1976, and no nuclear power plants have been ordered since 1973.2 In
2001, a representative of the National Association of Regulatory Utility
Commissioners (NARUC) testified before Congress that “the main impediment to
siting energy infrastructure is the great difficulty getting public acceptance for needed
facilities.”3 Likewise, the National Commission on Energy Policy (NCEP) stated in
its 2006 report that energy-facility siting is “a major cross-cutting challenge for U.S.
energy policy,” largely because of public opposition to new energy projects and other4
major infrastructure. In 2008, public acceptance remains an overriding concern in
proposals by energy companies to site electric power transmission lines, liquefied
natural gas (LNG) terminals, natural gas pipelines, wind farms, and other energy
facilities in many parts of the country.
1 The Carbon Dioxide Pipeline Study Act of 2007 (S. 2144) also contains these provisions
2 Jad Mouawad, “No New Refineries in 29 Years? There Might Well Be a Reason,” New
York Times (May 9, 2005); Marco Guigni, Social Protest and Policy Change: Ecology,
Antinuclear, and Peace Movements in Comparative Perspective, Rowman and Littlefield,
Lanham, MD (2004): 43-45.
3 William M. Nugent, First Vice President, National Association of Regulatory Utility
Commissioners, Testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
hearing on Federal, State, and Local Impediments to Siting Energy Infrastructure (May 15,
4 National Commission on Energy Policy, Siting Critical Energy Infrastructure: An
Overview of Needs and Challenges. (Washington, DC: June 2006): 1. (Hereafter referred
to as NCEP 2006.)
Faced with substantial public opposition, many energy infrastructure projects
viewed by policy makers to be in the national interest have been cancelled by
developers or have failed to win state or local siting approval. Reacting to such
failures over the years, Congress has occasionally enacted statutes intended to help
developers overcome community opposition to energy projects. In 1947, for
example, Congress amended the Natural Gas Act (P.L. 75-688) to grant federal
eminent domain authority to interstate natural gas pipeline developers seeking to
secure rights of way from unwilling landowners (15 U.S.C. § 717f(h)). The Trans-
Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act of 1973 (P.L. 93-153) stopped regulatory and
legal challenges to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline project brought by environmental,
native American, and community opponents. The Energy Policy Act of 1992 (P.L.
102-486) streamlined the federal licensing process for new nuclear power plants, in
part to ensure that community siting concerns would be addressed prior to plant
construction (Sec. 2801, 2802). Most recently, Congress passed the Energy Policy
Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58), which increased federal authority to approve interstate
electric transmission projects (Sec. 1221) and granted federal regulators “exclusive”
authority to approve the siting of onshore LNG terminals (Sec. 311).
Notwithstanding federal siting legislation, community stakeholders retain many
statutory and regulatory avenues to affect energy infrastructure siting decisions.
These include public input to state permitting under federal statutes such as the
Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (16 U.S.C. 1451 et seq.), the Clean Air Act
(42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.), and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 251
et seq.), among others. Community groups also have a role in siting reviews such as
those in P.L. 109-58 which require federal regulators to consult with
governor-designated state agencies regarding state and local safety considerations
prior to issuing LNG terminal permits (Sec. 311(d)). Local zoning and land use
regulations, in particular, have been widely used by communities to influence or
block energy infrastructure development.5
Since public acceptance has influenced the development of virtually every
category of U.S. energy infrastructure, it is logical to consider how the public may
view future infrastructure specifically associated with CCS. As one analyst has
[t]here is good reason to be concerned over public perception of CCS; lack of
information will prevent a balanced evaluation of its costs and benefits. It may
also create exaggerated perceptions of risk which can delay or stop6
implementation of this new technology.
Consideration of this issue can be divided into two separate but related dimensions
— public acceptance of CCS as an overall national policy, and public (or community)
acceptance of specific CCS facilities.
5 See, for example: Michele Morgan Bolton, “Power Plant Fight Spreads,” The Boston
Globe (January 31, 2008).
6 Jeffrey Logan, Andrea Disch, Kate Larsen, and John Venezia, “Building Public
Acceptability for Carbon Capture and Sequestration” (World Resources Institute: October
Public Acceptance of CCS Technology
One factor that determines whether community stakeholders accept a new
energy technology is whether they view it as consistent with broad policy objectives
they support. For example, residents of Searsburg, VT, have supported local wind
farm development primarily because they believe wind power does not pollute the
environment.7 Community groups oppose a proposed coal gasification power plant
in Edwardsport, IN, because they prefer investments in electricity conservation and
renewable energy sources.8 Other community groups oppose a proposed LNG
terminal off the southern California coast, in part, because they believe it would
increase U.S. dependence on foreign energy supplies.9 In such cases, the nature of
the proposed technology from a broad policy perspective has been a separate
consideration from its particular location or operational characteristics.
Although the 110th Congress has been debating the need for carbon control,
studies in the United States and other developed countries considering CCS policies
shows that “the vast majority of the public is not aware of carbon capture and10
sequestration, and even fewer understand the technology and its risks.”
Consequently, research on public acceptance of CCS is limited and based largely on
hypothetical scenarios and infrastructure choices. Nonetheless, policy researchers
have begun to identify likely attitudes among members of the public who learn about
CCS technology. Their findings are mixed. A 2007 study in Australia found that,
although most people believe it is very important to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
at a national level, many are “neutral” towards CCS as a strategy to do so. This study
found that approximately 40% of the public believes CCS would be “a quick fix that11
would not solve the greenhouse gas problem.” A 2007 study in France found only
a 38% approval rate for CCS after presenting survey subjects with explanations of12
both CCS technology and its potential adverse consequences. A 2006 study in the
Netherlands reported that “after processing relevant information, people are likely to
7 J.F. Palmer, “Public Acceptance Study of the Searsburg Wind Power Project: Year One
Post-Construction,” Report No. EHWF-TC-5, prepared by Clinton Solutions (Fayetteville,
NY: December 1977). [http://www.easthavenwindfarm.com/filing/high/ehwf-tc-5.pdf]
8 Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, “Public Opposition to Proposed Duke Coal-Fired
Power Plant,” (Indianapolis, IN: August 31, 2007). [http://www.citact.org/newsite/
modules.php?op=modload&n a me = N e w s & f i l e = a r t i c l e &s id=245&mode=thread&order=0
9 No Way on OceanWay Coalition, “Ten Reasons to Oppose LNG,” Web page, (Santa
Monica, CA: April 4th, 2008). [http://www.nowayonoceanway.org/2.html]
10 Jeff Logan, et al.(World Resources Institute: October 2007): 2.
11 Evonne Miller, Lorraine Bell, and Laurie Buys, “Public Understanding of Carbon
Sequestration in Australia: Socio-Demographic Predictors of Knowledge, Engagement and
Trust,” Australian Journal of Emerging Technologies and Society (Vol.5, No. 1, 2007).
12 Minh Ha-Duong, Alain Nadai, and Ana Sofia Campos, “A Survey on the Public
Perception of CCS in France” (Centre International de Recherche sur l’Environnement et
le Développement, Nogent-sur-Marne, France: December 21, 2007).
agree with large scale implementation” of CCS.13 A 2005 survey of the Canadian
public reported that respondents overall were “slightly supportive” of CCS in
Canada.14 A 2004 study in the United States by Carnegie Mellon University found
that people were significantly less willing to pay for CCS than for any other major
option to reduce CO2 emissions — including new nuclear power plants.15 A 2004
study in the United Kingdom found “slight support” for CCS in concept, but also a
belief that, as a stand-alone policy, “CCS might delay more far-reaching and
necessary long-term changes in society’s use of energy.”16 Other researchers report
similarly mixed findings, although specific study methodologies differ so it is
difficult to draw clear conclusions from the overall body of research to date.17
Public acceptance of CCS policies is complicated by public views of climate
change as a global phenomenon. Notwithstanding recent science studies and public
information campaigns about the effects of greenhouse gas emissions on climate
change, parts of both the science community and the general population reject
arguments that global warming is a problem requiring greenhouse gas mitigation.18
For example, a 2006 survey by MIT found that only 61% of the U.S. public believed
action should be taken to address global warming.19 Another national survey in May,
2008, found that while 71% of Americans believe there is “solid evidence” of global
warming, only 47% believe “the earth is warming because of human activity such
13 M. de Best-Waldhober and D. Daamen, Public Perceptions and Preference Regarding
Large-Scale Implementation of Six CO2 Capture and Storage Technologies: Well-Informed
and Well-Considered Opinions versus Uninformed Pseudo-Opinions of the Dutch Public
(Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands: 2006): p 249.
14 Jacqueline Sharp, Mark Jaccard, and David Keith, “Public Attitudes Toward Geological
Disposal of Carbon Dioxide in Canada,” Report No. 384 (Simon Fraser University,
Burnaby, BC, Canada: Fall 2005).
15 Claire R. Palmgren, M. Granger Morgan, Wandi Bruine De Bruin, and David Keith,
“Initial Public Perceptions of Deep Geological and Oceanic Disposal of Carbon Dioxide,”
Environmental Science & Technology (Vol. 38, No. 24, 2004): 6448.
16 Simon Shackley, Carly McLachlan, and Clair Gough, “The Public Perceptions of Carbon
Capture and Storage,” (Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, Working Paper 44:
January 2004): 2. [http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/publications/working_papers/wp44.pdf]
17 See, for example: D.T. Reiner, M. de Figueiredo, H. Herzog, S. Ansolabehere, K. Itaoka,
M. Akai, F. Johnsson, and M. Odenberger, “An International Comparison Of Public
Attitudes Towards Carbon Capture and Storage Technologies,” Presented at the 8th
International Conference on Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies (Trondeim, Norway:
June 19-22. 2006). [http://sequestration.mit.edu/pdf/GHGT8_Reiner.pdf]
18 See, for example: Sharon Begley, “The Truth About Denial,” Newsweek (Aug 13, 2007);
Arthur B. Robinson, Noah E. Robinson, and Willie Soon, “Environmental Effects of
Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide,” Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons
(No. 12: 2007): 79-90; and Andrew C. Revkin, “Skeptics on Human Climate Impact Seize
on Cold Spell,” New York Times (March 2, 2008).
19 T.E. Curry, S. Ansolabehere, and H. Herzog, “A Survey of Public Attitudes towards
Climate Change and Climate Change Mitigation Technologies in the United States: Analysis
of 2006 Results,” MIT LFEE 2007-1-WP (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: April
as the burning of fossil fuels.”20 This survey further notes that “[o]pinions about the
primary cause of global warming have remained stable in recent years.”21
Taken together, the studies above suggest that the public is ambivalent towards
CCS as an overall carbon control technology. At the policy level, this ambivalence
may cause concern among legislators seeking to promote carbon control strategies
that could impose significant costs on local communities or the U.S. economy
overall. At the project level, this ambivalence may become outright opposition as
community residents incorporate local considerations in their evaluation of a
proposed CCS development. To the extent that members of the public reject
assertions that human activity is responsible for a rise in global temperature, or that
such a rise requires intervention by the United States, policy makers may face
difficulty convincing communities that CCS is necessary to begin with. Project-
specific considerations are further discussed in the following section.
Community Acceptance of CCS Infrastructure
Another factor influencing how public stakeholders may view an energy facility
is their assessment of its potential negative community impacts (e.g., property values,
environmental effects, safety) balanced against local benefits (e.g., jobs, tax22
revenues). In the case of CCS, three main categories of facility may be involved:
power plants with CO2 capture technology, transportation pipelines, and underground
sequestration sites. Although it is necessary to integrate these three types of
infrastructure to implement CCS, they are physically distinct and so present different
challenges related to siting and community acceptance. Unfortunately, there is
almost no publicly available research about community attitudes towards these three
infrastructure categories specifically in the context of CCS. Policy makers must,
therefore, draw inferences about CCS infrastructure from experience with similar
infrastructure in applications analogous to CCS. While not perfect comparisons,
these analogies may offer valuable insights into the potential reactions of affected
communities to the siting of CCS facilities.
Power Plants with CO2 Controls
Community acceptance of electric power plants has been a concern of policy
makers and plant developers for decades. As early as 1970, one legal analyst
observed that “[e]lectric power projects across the nation have been attacked by a
20 Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, “An Increase in GOP Doubt About
Global Warming Deepens Partisan Divide,” Internet publication (May 8, 2008).
[http://pewresearch.org/ pubs/828/gl obal-warming]
22 See, for example: “With Sparrows Point LNG Application in Hand, FERC Considers
Project as Resistance Hardens,” Inside F.E.R.C. (January 15, 2007).
worried and frustrated public.”23 Community scrutiny of, and opposition to, new
power plant proposals has evolved since then, along with federal, state, and local
policy approaches to address them. Detailing these approaches is beyond the scope
of this report, but they have met with only limited success. Power plant projects,
particularly coal-fired projects, throughout the United States continue to struggle for
siting approval, in part because communities where they would be located often do
not want them.24
If the public views CO2 capture-capable power plants in the same way it has
conventional power plants in the past, it seems likely that the former will face the
same sorts of community acceptance barriers as the latter, and for many of the same
reasons. The fact that CCS power plants are intended to be “cleaner” may not
matter. As the National Commission on Energy Policy points out, “new technology
alone will not alleviate siting problems.”25 Indications to date suggest that this is
likely to be the case. For example, one prominent community group in Minnesota
opposes the proposed Mesaba coal gasification power plant, which is intended to be
CO2 “capture-ready,” because the group believes the facility would “degrade
recreational lake country,” would pollute air and water, would require
environmentally harmful coal mining, would be subsidized with public funds, and
would force private landowners to accept associated network infrastructure (i.e.,
electric transmission lines, railroad connections, pipelines and roads).26 Whether
these objections are justified or not, they are the same types of objections often raised
against conventional coal-fired power plants.
In addition to traditional considerations, the siting of power plants and CO2
capture facilities under a CCS scheme may face new concerns stemming from
changes in the physical configuration of power plants, or the processes they employ,
to make carbon capture possible. While the ultimate characteristics of carbon-
controlled power plants have yet to be determined because the capture technologies
are still in development, new siting-related concerns are already apparent.
Plant Site Area. Power plants incorporating carbon capture may require a
significantly larger site area than a conventional plant to accommodate the additional
process facilities associated with CO2 capture. Such facilities could include CO2
compressors, scrubbers, oxygen production plants, or other carbon capture
23 Turner T. Smith, Jr., “Electricity and the Environment — The Generating Plant Siting
Problem,” Business Law (November 1970): 169.
24 See, for example: David A. Fahrenthold, “Debating Coal’s Cost in Rural Va.,” The
Washington Post (June 25, 2008); Michele Morgan Bolton, “Power Plant Will Figure in
Campaigns,” Boston Globe (May 1, 2008); Susan Moran, “Fight Against Coal Plants Draws
Diverse Partners,” New York Times (October 20, 2007).
25 NCEP (2006): 2.
26 Citizens Against the Mesaba Project (CAMP), “Mission Statement,” Web page, (Grand
Rapids, MN: June 2, 2008). [http://www.camp-site.info/about.html]
equipment.27 Depending upon the capture technology employed, the site area
required for the capture equipment may approach the size of the site area of the
power generating plant itself.28 This larger site requirement is a particularly
important consideration for existing power plants. MIT researchers conclude that
“additional space requirements for the CO2 recovery and compression systems ... may
cause difficulties for existing plants that do not have space readily available.”29
Furthermore, if net power production from the site must be maintained, construction
of additional generating capacity on-site could be necessary to offset power losses in
the capture process.30 Power plant sites have expanded successfully in the past, for
example, to add sulfur oxide (SOx) control equipment (scrubbers). Nonetheless, to
the extent an existing power plant would need to expand into adjacent communities
or natural areas to add CO2 equipment, such expansions could face community
Hazardous Materials. Certain carbon capture technologies may use or
produce hazardous materials in large quantities. For example, a carbon capture
demonstration project in Pleasant Prairie, WI, employs chilled ammonia to strip CO2
from power plant combustion gases. At full scale, such a process would require tons
of ammonia, which is listed as “highly hazardous” chemical under Occupational
Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations (29 C.F.R. 1910.119).31
Ammonia in quantities exceeding 100,000 pounds (in aqueous solution), and
therefore requiring risk management plans to be filed with the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), is already found in nearly 300 U.S. power plants, where
it is widely used in selective catalytic reduction (SCR) of nitrogen oxide (NOx)32
emissions. The Pleasant Prairie power plant itself has over a million tons of
ammonia in its NOx control equipment, unrelated to its CO2 control demonstration33
equipment. Furthermore, ammonia-based SCR may be required for any new coal-
fired plants in order to meet federal clean air standards, with or without carbon
capture. Nonetheless, perceived risks of an uncontrolled ammonia release from
ammonia-based CO2 capture facilities may increase opposition to the future siting of
such facilities in populated areas. An early example of such opposition is a
27 R. Irons, G. Sekkapan, R. Panesar, J. Gibbins, and M. Lucquiaud, “CO2 Capture Ready
Plants,” International Energy Agency, Report No. 2007/4 (May, 2007): ii.
28 J. Gibbins, “Making New Power Plants ‘Capture Ready’,” Imperial College, Presentation
to the 9th International CO2 Capture Network (London, England: June 16, 2006).
29 Mark C. Bohm, Howard J. Herzog, John E. Parsons and Ram C. Sekar, “Capture-Ready
Coal Plants — Options, Technologies and Economics,” International Journal of
Greenhouse Gas Control (Vol. 1, Issue 1: April 2007): 113-120.
30 R. Irons, et al.(May, 2007): ii.
31 The threshold quantity to be covered under this standard is 10,000 pounds.
32 Risk management plans (RMPs) are required under the Clean Air Act, Section 112(r).
The list of EPA hazardous chemicals and their threshold quantities is found at 40 CFR
68.130. Plant statistics are derived from CRS analysis of the EPA RMP*National Database
(with off-site consequence analysis data), February 1, 2008. The EPA database is not
cogeneration power plant proposed in 1984 in Crockett, CA, but blocked by
community groups, in part out of fear of ammonia release from the facility’s SCR
process.34 Similar concerns about ammonia release are also reportedly among the
reasons community groups currently oppose a new peaking power plant proposed in
Billerica, MA.35 There is at least one recent example of a community group formed
specifically to oppose the use of a hazardous chemical (hydrogen fluoride) in the
expansion of a local energy facility (a refinery).36
Amine-based CO2 capture technologies, another post-combustion CO2 capture
option, may raise hazardous material concerns of a different kind. Amine-based
systems may generate wastes in process chemical reclaimers which are “toxic to
humans and the environment.”37 Among the chemicals found in such wastes are
vanadium, antimony, and cyanide compounds — all listed as hazardous wastes by the
Environmental Protection Agency (40 C.F.R. 261).38 Amine-process hazardous
wastes would need to be transported off-site by truck or rail and disposed of in
suitable hazardous waste disposal facilities. Although process wastes are also
generated by existing SOx and NOx emissions control systems, they are generally not
classified as hazardous waste under federal regulation. Amine-process CO2 capture
plants may therefore face greater publicly scrutiny and opposition than SOx and NOx
systems. Amine-based processes may ultimately not be the technology of choice for
CCS, however, as they are potentially more expensive than ammonia-based or other
CO2 capture processes.
Chemicals Transportation. Power plants employing ammonia, amine, or
other potentially hazardous chemicals as inputs to, or outputs from, their carbon
capture processes may require new or substantially expanded transportation facilities
to move those chemicals.
These include product pipelines to get enormous volumes of ammonia, H2S, and
other chemical solvents to the new power plants for carbon separation. These are
chemicals that have either never been used at power plants or never at this
scale.... Like the creation of a national highway system for surface transportation
of commodities and people, the new CCS technology at power plants will require
a very sophisticated infrastructure of chemical products delivered by surface
34 Arthur O’Donnell, “NIMBY IV: Second Impressions About Crockett Cogeneration,”
California Energy Markets (October 9, 1992).
35 Connie Paige, “Proposed Power Plant Faces Delays,” Boston Globe, (February 21, 2008);
Billerica Watchers Group, “!!Stop the Billerica Power Plant!!,” Internet page (July 2, 2008).
36 See, for example: Stacey Shepard, “Group Forms to Oppose Refinery Chemical,” The
Bakersfield Californian (Bakersfield, CA: April 8, 2008).
37 B. Thitakamol, A. Veawab, and A. Aroonwilas, “Environmental Impacts of
Absorption-based CO2 Capture Unit for Post-combustion Treatment of Flue Gas from
Coal-fired Power Plant,” International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control (Vol. 1:2007):
338; A.B. Rao and E. S. Rubin, “A Technical, Economic, and Environmental Assessment
of Amine-based CO2 Capture Technology for Power Plant Greenhouse Gas Control,”
Environmental Science and Technology (Vol. 36: 2002): 4467-4475.
shipping, barges and trains to CCS-equipped power plants. Some CCS plants
may even require construction of chemical delivery pipelines that have
traditionally only been constructed to serve refineries, natural gas production39
plants or other industrial facilities.
While it is too soon to determine the specific nature and capacity of chemical
transportation needs for future power plants with carbon capture capabilities, the
safety and security of such transportation has been a prominent concern among the40
public. Hazardous materials (HAZMAT) transportation security has also been a
key concern of Congress, especially since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.
As the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation stated in a
2007 report, “[t]he majority of the over 2 billion tons of HAZMAT that move
annually are transported by trucks, pipelines, and railroads, and such shipments
present one of the most serious security concerns for the Nation.”41 Given these
prominent and public concerns, the siting of chemicals transportation infrastructure
for carbon-capture capable power plants may face potential opposition in
communities where it is proposed.
CO2 Pipelines for CCS
The energy industry has constructed nearly half a million miles of oil and gasth42
transmission pipeline across the United States since the early 20 century. Since
the 1970s, the industry has also operated a limited CO2 pipeline network in relatively
remote areas of the Western United States, primarily to transport naturally-occurring
CO2 for use in underground injection for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Experiences
with natural gas pipelines are relevant to CCS because natural gas pipelines are
similar in design to CO2 pipelines, and therefore may be viewed in similar ways by
the public with respect to siting. Furthermore, unlike the existing CO2 pipeline
network, natural gas pipelines are found throughout the country, including densely
populated regions where new CO2 pipelines may be needed for CCS. Experiences
with CO2 pipelines in EOR provide a record of siting in unpopulated areas, as well
as statistics on network safety specific to CO2.
As in the case of power plants, pipeline developers have faced local opposition
to new pipeline development for many years. During the construction of the first
major interstate oil pipeline in the United States (the Big Inch Pipeline) in 1942,
developers had to acquire through eminent domain about 300 of the 7,500 properties
39 American Public Power Association, APPA Comments to NERC on Reliability Impacts
of Climate Change Initiatives (July 16, 2008): 6.
40 See, for example: Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, Toxic Trains and Public Safety in
New York State: The Case for Urgent Action (September 2007).
41 Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Surface Transportation
and Rail Security Act of 2007, S.Rept. 110-29 (March 1, 2007): 8.
42 Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), “National Transportation Statistics,” February
table_01_10.html]. In this report “oil” includes petroleum and other hazardous liquids such
as gasoline, jet fuel, diesel fuel, and propane, unless otherwise noted.
required for the pipeline right-of-way.43 Through the 1940s and 1950s unwilling
landowners along proposed pipeline routes continued to be an obstacle to siting,
although their influence was limited and their interests usually focused more on
financial compensation for rights-of-way than broader community concerns. In the
1960s, however, public acceptance started to have a markedly greater influence on
the siting of pipelines in parts of the United States, largely due to perceived impacts
of pipeline construction on the environment.44 The encroachment of cities on
historically remote pipeline rights-of-way subsequently heightened concerns about
public safety. While many communities, especially in energy-producing regions,
continued to support local pipeline development during this period, a gas pipeline
industry survey in 1991 found that over a third of the public would object to having
a long-distance pipeline sited in their neighborhood.45 Accidents such as the 2000
natural gas pipeline explosion which killed 12 campers near Carlsbad, NM, and the
2006 BP Alaska oil pipeline leaks, which temporarily halted North Slope oil
production, have aggravated public concern about pipeline safety in recent years.46
Despite public concerns about environmental impacts and public safety, new
natural gas and oil pipelines continue to be sited in many parts of the United States.
Indeed, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), nearly 1,700
miles of natural gas pipeline in at least 50 separate projects were completed in the
Lower 48 States in 2007, primarily to serve new gas production areas.47 Nonetheless,
one result of public opposition has been to prevent new pipeline siting in certain
localities, and to increase pipeline development time and costs in others. In a 2006
report, for example, the EIA stated that “several major projects in the Northeast,
although approved by FERC, have been held up because of public opposition or
non-FERC regulatory interventions.”48 In the specific case of the Millennium
Pipeline, proposed in 1997 to transport Canadian natural gas to metropolitan New
York, developers did not receive final construction approval for nine years, largely
43 Louis Berger Group, Inc., The Big Inch and Little Big Inch Pipelines, Produced for Texas
Eastern Transmission Corp. (Houston, TX: May 2000): 19.
44 For an early example, see Federal Power Commission, Manufacturers Light & Heat Co.,
45 Roper Organization, “Public Attitudes Toward Natural Gas and Interstate Pipelines,”
Prepared for the INGAA Foundation, Inc. (New York, NY: May 15, 1991): 20-23.
46 See, for example: Janet Zink, “Fueling the Resistance,” St. Petersburg Times, December
16, 2007; W. Loy, “Slope Mayor Questions Leak Detection,” Anchorage Daily News, March
14, 2006; J. Nesmith and R. K. M. Haurwitz, “Pipelines: The Invisible Danger,” Austin
American-Statesman (July 22, 2001)
47 Energy Information Admin., Natural Gas Year-In-Review (March 2008): 6.
48 Energy Information Admin., Additions to Capacity on the U.S. Natural Gas Pipeline
Network: 2005 (August 2006): 11.
because of community resistance to the pipeline route.49 Numerous other proposed
pipelines, especially in populated areas, have faced similar community barriers.50
CO2 Pipeline Safety. CO2 pipelines are built in almost exactly the same way
as natural gas pipelines, so public acceptance issues related to their construction
would likely reflect gas industry experiences. With respect to public safety, however,
CO2 pipelines for CCS could present new or unfamiliar risks. Although it is not
combustible like natural gas, and so poses virtually no risk of fire or explosion, CO2
is an asphyxiant listed as a Class 2.2 (non-flammable gas) hazardous material under
Department of Transportation regulations (49 C.F.R. § 172.101). Furthermore,
unlike natural gas, CO2 is heavier than air, so its potential to accumulate in low-lying
or enclosed spaces like basements or tunnels is a safety concern — especially for CO2
pipelines passing through cities. As the Deputy Administrator of the Pipeline and
Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has testified before Congress,
“a large, sudden release of ... CO2 could have catastrophic consequences in a
populated area.”51 Accordingly, PHMSA applies nearly the same safety requirements
to CO2 pipelines as it does to pipelines carrying hazardous liquids such as crude oil,
gasoline, and anhydrous ammonia (49 C.F.R. § 195).
Based on the limited sample of CO2 incidents to date, analysts conclude that,
mile-for-mile, CO2 pipelines appear to be safer than the other types of pipeline
regulated by the federal government.52 Nonetheless, if the network of CO2 pipelines
expands under CCS policies, analysts suggest that “statistically, the number of
incidents involving CO2 should be similar to those for natural gas transmission.”53
Overall, then, although CO2 poses a somewhat different type of risk, CO2 pipelines
may appear to the general public to pose a similar level of risk as the natural gas
pipelines with which it may be more familiar.
CO2 Pipeline Siting Opposition. In remarks during a March 2008
congressional briefing on carbon control, Senator Jeff Bingaman, Chairman of the
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, stated that the development of CO2
pipeline infrastructure was among his top three concerns in developing CCS policy.
49 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), “Commission Approves Revised $1
Billion Millennium Pipeline Project to Bring New Gas Service to the Northeast,” Press
release (December 21, 2006). See, for example: Randal C. Archibold, “Fighting Plans for
a Gas Pipeline: Not Under My Backyard,” New York Times (August 7, 2001).
50 Samantha Santa Maria, “ Energy Projects: Rockies Express Add-on Pipe Projects Face
Several Obstacles to Building in US Northeast,” Inside F.E.R.C. (October 22, 2007).
51 Krista L. Edwards, Deputy Administrator, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety
Administration, Testimony before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Hearing on Carbon Capture, Transportation, and Sequestration and Related Bills, S. 2323
and S. 2144 (January 31, 2008).
52 John Gale and John Davidson, “Transmission of CO2 — Safety and Economic
Considerations,” Energy, Vol. 29, Nos. 9-10 (July-August 2004): 1326.
53 J. Barrie, K. Brown, P.R. Hatcher, and H.U. Schellhase, “Carbon Dioxide Pipelines: A
Preliminary Review of Design and Risks,” Proceedings of the 7th International Conference
on Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies (Vancouver, Canada: September 5-9, 2004): 2.
According to Senator Bingaman, “there is a big problem with [CO2] transportation
in this country.”54 Almost no research, however, examines public attitudes
specifically concerning CO2 pipelines used for CCS. One relevant study in 2007
found that CO2 pipeline safety and routing both had the potential to be negative
drivers of public opinion.55 The study reported “a common perception across
stakeholder groups that siting CCS facilities, including pipelines, will be a major
challenge.”56 Energy industry experts have expressed similar concerns that CO2
pipelines for CCS would face growing public opposition not only in affluent
communities but across a wide range of socioeconomic groups.57
Faced with community or landowner opposition, pipeline developers typically
rely on eminent domain authority to secure pipelines rights-of-way. In the case of
natural gas, companies seeking to build interstate pipelines must first obtain
certificates of public convenience and necessity from FERC under the Natural Gas
Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 717, et seq.). Such certification may include safety and security
provisions with respect to pipeline routing, safety standards and other factors.58 A
certificate of public convenience and necessity granted by FERC (15 U.S.C. §
There is no federal siting authority for oil pipelines, so interstate oil pipeline
developers must secure rights of way under various state statutes. Likewise,
interstate CO2 pipelines developed for EOR purposes have been constructed under
state statutes because federal agencies claim no siting jurisdiction for CO2 pipelines.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Surface Transportation
Board (STB), the two most logical candidates for administering federal CO2 pipeline
siting authority, disclaimed jurisdiction over CO2 pipeline siting nearly 30 years
ago.59 It is unclear, however, to what extent state eminent domain authorities would
extend to CO2 pipelines for CCS if a nationwide network of such pipelines were
required. The state-by-state siting approval process for CO2 pipelines also could be
complex and protracted, and could face public opposition, especially in populated or
environmentally sensitive areas. Consequently, members of Congress have
54 Senator Jeff Bingaman, Chairman, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee,
Remarks before the Center for Strategic and International Studies briefing “Making CCS
Work: Economics and Critical Issues” (Washington, DC: March 31, 2008).
55 International Energy Agency, Public Perception of Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage:
Prioritised Assessment of Issues and Concerns: Summary for Policy-Makers (March 23,
56 Ibid: 6.
57 Joel Kirkland, “Expansive Energy Agenda Hangs on Treatment of Public Opposition,
Regulatory Hurdles,” Inside F.E.R.C. (March 10, 2008): 16.
58 18 C.F.R. § 157.
59 Notwithstanding the ICC’s 1980 disclaimer, other evidence indirectly suggests the
possibility that interstate CO2 pipelines could still be considered subject to STB jurisdiction.
For further discussion, see CRS Report RL34307, Regulation of Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
Sequestration Pipelines: Jurisdictional Issues, by Adam Vann and Paul W. Parfomak.
expressed concern that federal siting authority for CO2 pipelines might be required
in the future.60
Pipelines vs. Power Lines. In light of costs and siting requirements for CO2
pipelines, some analysts anticipate that a CO2 network for CCS will begin with
relatively short pipelines from CO2 sources located close to sequestration sites.61
This development approach would place CO2 capture-capable power plants, for
example, directly atop the largest saline aquifers and would transmit electric power
to distant urban centers. Such power plants would be conceptually similar to existing
coal-fired plants located directly adjacent to coal mines (“mine-mouth” plants)
scattered throughout U.S. coal-producing regions. It is debatable whether CO2
pipeline costs would generally outweigh electricity transmission costs (including62
capital, operations, maintenance, and electric line losses) in new construction.
Nonetheless, any CCS project requiring the construction of extensive new
transmission infrastructure from remote to populated areas could face concerted
community opposition to the siting of those transmission lines. Public challenges to
electric transmission projects have long been considered among the most serious and
most intractable challenges in the U.S. energy sector.63 Such challenges continue to
delay or prevent new transmission development in some regions despite the
provisions in P.L. 109-58 intended to encourage the siting of new transmission lines.
Carbon Sequestration Sites
Carbon sequestration sites are similar in many ways to natural gas and oil
production sites — only operating in reverse. Rather than extracting an underground
resource, operators of sequestration sites inject CO2 underground using technologies
originally developed for the oil and gas industries and adapted for long-term
sequestration and monitoring of CO2. As stated earlier in this report, some oil fields
already employ CO2 injection to increase oil production. These injections are limited
in scale and focused on the oil resource, but they may achieve substantial levels of
permanent CO2 sequestration as a by-product of the oil production process. A key
difference is that enhanced oil recovery removes and recycles injected CO2 by design,
whereas a CCS project developed strictly for carbon control would not. Other
underground injection applications in practice today, such as natural gas storage,
deep injection of liquid wastes, and subsurface disposal of oil-field brines, may share
similar characteristics with sequestering CO2.
60 Senator Lisa Murkowski, Remarks during the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural
Resources Hearing on Carbon Capture, Transportation, and Sequestration and Related Bills,
S. 2323 and S. 2144 (January 31, 2008).
61 John Deutch, Ernest J. Moniz, et al., The Future of Coal. (Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts
Institute of Technology: 2007): 59.
62 Jeffrey M. Bielicki and Daniel P. Schrag, “On the Influence of Carbon Capture and
Storage on the Location of Electric Power Generation,” Harvard University, Belfer Center
for Science and International Affairs, Working paper (2006).
63 Shalini P. Vajjhala, “Siting Difficulty and Transmission Investment,”IAEE Energy Forum
(International Association for Energy Economics: 2nd Quarter 2008): 5-7; North American
Electric Reliability Council, 2006 Long-Term Reliability Assessment (October 2006): 22-23.
Oil and Gas Property Rights. The aspect of oil and gas field development
— and, by extension, sequestration site development — which most significantly
depends upon community acceptance is the acquisition of property rights. If an oil
or natural gas deposit lies beneath private property, developers may need to lease
mineral rights from hundreds, or even thousands, of landowners distributed across
a large geographic area in order to produce oil or gas from that deposit.64
Historically, most private landowners have been willing to lease their oil or natural
gas rights in return for production royalties. As the American Association of
Petroleum Geologists has stated, “[p]rivate lands have been largely explored and
produced.”65 Consequently, some CCS proponents expect that private owners would
be similarly inclined to lease “pore space” under their property for the purposes of
permanent carbon sequestration.66 Early indications, however, suggest that this may
not generally be the case. For example, as the National Commission on Energy
Policy (NCEP) states in its 2006 report,
public opposition remains inextricably intertwined with local concerns, including
environmental and ecosystem impacts as well as, in some cases, complex issues
of property rights and competing land uses.... In some cases, upstream or
downstream infrastructure requirements — such as the need for ... underground
carbon sequestration sites ... may generate as much if not more opposition than67
the energy facilities they support.
As with other CCS infrastructure, empirical research specifically about
community attitudes towards sequestration sites is limited. The 2007 French study
found that approximately 40% of survey subjects “would be afraid if CCS was to be
used near their community.”68 A 2007 survey of citizens living near a potential
sequestration site in the Netherlands found that “[p]eople judge the idea of storage
in general as slightly positive, but when the technology enters peoples daily lives, as
in storage nearby, the attitude becomes more negative.”69 A 2006 role-playing
workshop by the World Resources Institute simulating a public hearing about a
proposed sequestration site found that community members “were reluctant to be a
‘guinea pig’” and reached a “consensus ... that the risks outweighed the benefits in
64 In “split-estates” mineral rights are legally separate from surface property rights and may
be held by the federal or state government on lands with private surface owners.
65 Lee C. Gerhard and Carl J. Smith, American Association of Petroleum Geologists
(AAPG), “An Energy Policy for the United States of America,” Final report of the AAPG
President’s Energy Policy Summit, (Army Navy Club, Washington DC: April 23, 2001).
66 Who owns pore space (i.e., sequestration rights) has not been established in most states.
Wyoming statute H.B. 89 which passed in March 2008 assigns pore space ownership to the
67 NCEP 2006: 9.
68 Evonne Miller, et al. (2007).
69 Nicole M.A. Huijts, Cees J.H. Midden, Anneleos L. Meijnders, “Social Acceptance of
Carbon Dioxide Storage,” Energy Policy, (Vol. 35 (5): May 2007): 2788.
the scenario presented.”70 The workshop also reported that “[i]t was clear some
community representatives perceived CO2 as a waste from the start,” casting an
overall negative light on the hypothetical carbon sequestration project.71
A few cases in the United States involving actual sequestration projects or
related legislation have also demonstrated significant public opposition. In 1998, the
Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority abandoned an experiment to
sequester CO2 in the deep ocean, in part due to strong public outcry against the
project.72 Focus groups in 2007 in two California communities where actual
sequestration sites were considered raised familiar concerns about community
participation in siting decisions, along with fears that the sequestration projects may
“risk ... carbon dioxide release, may lower property values, may increase the
likelihood of natural disasters such as earthquakes, may change the ‘character’ of the
town, would involve the construction of a pipeline infrastructure, and [would be]
Notwithstanding the community resistance examples described above, some
sequestration sites in the United States have secured sufficient community approval
to begin development, at least for the purposes of technology demonstration. For
example, prior to its restructuring in January 2008, the Department of Energy’s
(DOE) FutureGen demonstration project in Tuscola, IL, had acquired through
voluntary agreement contiguous property rights from 42 private landowners in
Illinois to develop a one square mile sequestration site for the project.74 Some
analysts caution, however, that the Tuscola sequestration site, while adequate for a
demonstration project, is perhaps 10 to 100 times smaller than a full-scale,
commercial sequestration site might need to be to serve a single large coal-fired
power plant (emitting over 10 million metric tons of CO2 annually).75 Furthermore,
compensation for these rights, at $1000 per acre of surface land, was at a premium
and based on existing surface property values rather than a valuation factor linked to
70 World Resources Institute, “Carbon Capture and Storage Project Siting Role Play
Scenario Workshop,” Meeting notes (October 20, 2006): 4. [http://pdf.wri.org/
71 Ibid: 5.
72 Mark A. de Figueiredo, The Hawaii Carbon Dioxide Ocean Sequestration Field
Experiment: A Case Study in Public Perceptions and Institutional Effectiveness, Master’s
thesis, (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Laboratory for Energy and the Environment:
June 2003). [http://sequestration.mit.edu/pdf/defig_thesis.pdf]
73 Gabrielle Wong-Parodi, Isha Ray, and Alex Farrell, “Community Perceptions of CCS in
California’s Central Valley,” Unpublished memorandum to CRS (Energy and Resources
Group, Univ. of California, Berkeley: April 8, 2008). This study did not report quantitative
measures of support or opposition to the proposed sequestration sites.
74 Alta Long, Treasurer and Brian Moody, Office of Economic Development, City of
Tuscola, Illinois, Personal communication (July 9, 2008). The original concept for the
FutureGen project was subsequently canceled by the Department of Energy for costs
75 See CRS Report RL34316, Pipelines for Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Control: Network Needs
and Cost Uncertainties, by Paul W. Parfomak and Peter Folger.
CO2 or pore space value. Some analysts have also indicated that local property
owners were eager to sign pore space contracts in part to ensure the development of
the power plant complex in their community, which they believed would provide
direct benefits to community members apart from sequestration payments.76 Due to
these factors, it is unclear whether the Tuscola sequestration site acquisition would
be representative of sequestration site development in commercial operations.
Compulsory Unitization. Oil and gas production reservoirs, and other
geologic formations into which CO2 might be injected, are typically continuous
bodies of porous rock that extend beneath large geographic areas deep (1,000 feet or
more) underground. In addition to the issue of landowners’ willingness to lease
sequestration rights, developers must also be concerned about the physical
configuration of the rights they must acquire. The most economically efficient, and
least environmentally impactful, way to produce oil from a large natural deposit is
to do so by means of a single operator treating that deposit as a geophysical whole,
rather than as artificially independent fragments delineated by property boundaries.
Where an oil deposit is spread out beneath multiple parcels of private land, an energy
company may therefore seek to acquire the rights to all (or nearly all) such parcels
to form a contiguous production “unit.” The acquisition and development of a deposit
in this way is called “unitization,” and has been practiced in the oil industry since the77
Unitization agreements are typically negotiated as private, voluntarily
agreements between an operator and multiple minerals rights owners.78 However,
nearly all oil- and natural gas-producing states also have compulsory unitization laws
requiring unwilling landowners to join a production unit if a sufficient percentage of79
other potential unit members voluntarily do so. The minimum percentage required
may range from 51% to 80% of unit property owners, depending upon the state.80
Compulsory unitization laws facilitate the establishment of production units over
property owner objections, although they do not guarantee them. According to some
analysts, even with such statutes, “unitization is still an arduous, if not impossible,
76 R. Lee Gresham, Carnegie Mellon Univ., Dept. of Engineering and Public Policy,
Personal communication (June 24, 2008).
77 Steven N. Wiggins and Gary D. Libecap, “Oil Field Unitization: Contractual Failure in
the Presence of Imperfect Information,” The American Economic Review, Vol. 75, No. 3
(June 1985): 368. “Pooling” is a similar arrangement of combining mineral interests for
production efficiency, but it does not necessarily take into account the geophysical
configuration of the oil deposit.
78 Andrew B. Derman, Thomas & Knight, L.L.P., “Unitization,” FindLaw Library (2003).
[http://library.findlaw.c om/2003/J a n/30/132512.html ]
79 One exception is Texas.
80 Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, IOGCC Model Statute and Fieldwide
Unitization References (1999): 9.
[ h t t p : / / www. i o gcc.state.ok.us/Websites/iogcc/docs/iogcc_model_statute_and_fi e l d wi d e _
task” in states with high threshold percentages.81 Reaching agreement on unit
contracts, therefore, can be a complex and protracted process, with negotiations
taking years and often failing to achieve the most efficient unit sizes.82
Oil and gas industry experience with compulsory unitization is important in the
CCS context because analysts anticipate “that a similar unitization process will need
to be developed prior to large-scale injection of CO2 for sequestration in geological
formations.”83 An Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission task force examined
this issue in proposing model CCS regulations in 2007.
The Task Force concluded that control of the reservoir and associated pore space
used for CO2 storage is necessary to allow for the orderly development of a
storage project.... The Model General Rules and Regulations propose the
required acquisition of these storage rights and contemplates use of state natural
gas storage eminent domain powers or oil and gas unitization processes to gain84
control of the entire storage reservoir.
A unitization requirement for CO2 may stem from sequestration efficiency
considerations, CO2 trespass concerns, or the co-location of pore space and natural
gas or oil. Trespass may be important because CO2 injected underground could
spread in unanticipated ways through a geological formation with no way to prevent
its entering the pore space of any particular landowner located within that formation.
In locations where a subset of relevant landowners is unwilling to lease its pore
space, for example, disputes about subterranean CO2 trespass could hamper
sequestration field development.85 The presence of oil or gas may be important
because it may require a site to be developed in compliance with long-standing
mineral statutes, including mineral resource unitization statutes, along with CO2
statutes. The New Mexico Energy, Minerals, Natural Resources Department’s Oil
Conservation Division (OCD) has identified these issues as potential barriers to
carbon sequestration site development.
81 Jacqueline Lang Weaver and David F Asmus, “Unitizing Oil and Gas Fields Around the
World: A Comparative Analysis of National, Laws and Private Contracts,” Houston Journal
of International Law (March 22, 2006).
82 Gary B. Libecap, “Unitization,” The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics and the Law
(Peter Newman, Ed.), Macmillan Press (London: 1998).
83 Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership, Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership
(Phase I) Final Report/July — September 2005 Quarterly Report (January 2006): 34.
[http://www.undeerc.org/ PCOR/pr oducts/pdf/finalreport.pdf]
84 The Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC), Task Force on Carbon
Capture and Geologic Storage, Storage of Carbon Dioxide in Geologic Structures: A Legal
and Regulatory Guide for States and Provinces, (September 25, 2007): 4.
[ h t t p : / / www.e e i .or g/ me e t i n gs / non a v_2007-10-18-km/CCS_IOGCCl egalregulGuideExec
85 For legal discussion of CO2 trespass and related property issues, see Mark A. de
Figueiredo, “Property Interests and Liability of Geologic Carbon Dioxide Storage,” (MIT
Carbon Sequestration Initiative: September 2005). [http://sequestration.mit.edu/pdf/
This may prove an unacceptable means of blocking planned sequestration
projects, as minority interests could refuse to ratify unitization orders, making
operation of the unit as a sequestration field difficult. Nonunitized interests may
have available to them legal remedies such as nuisance and trespass actions for86
any provable interference with their mineral production.
A further challenge associated with a unitization requirement for CO2
sequestration sites is the applicability of state compulsory unitization statutes to CCS.
Because such statutes typically have been enacted specifically for oil and natural gas
extraction, it is unclear to what extent they could be applied to CO2 injection into
formations not associated with oil or natural gas, such as deep saline aquifers. For
example, New Mexico’s oil and gas statutes cover the production of “natural gas” or
“gas” defined as “any combustible vapor composed chiefly of hydrocarbons
occurring naturally in a pool.”87 This definition would not seem to apply to CO2.
Accordingly, New Mexico regulators have concluded that “there exists no clear
authority for the state to regulate anthropogenic CO2 injection for sequestration
purposes alone, nor does it have general authority to regulate injection/sequestration
of CO2 ... into reservoirs other than those that produce oil and gas.”88
By comparison, West Virginia’s statutes apply to “natural gas and all other fluid
hydrocarbons not defined as oil,” without defining “natural gas” in a way which
clearly excludes CO2.89 The state’s unitization statute applies to a “pool,” defined as
“an underground accumulation of petroleum or gas in a single and separate natural
reservoir.”90 The statute appears ambiguous as to whether CO2 is a covered “gas”
and whether a sequestration site is a “natural reservoir.” In states without any
unitization statutes, or where existing unitization statues do not clearly apply to CO2,
community opponents of sequestration projects may therefore litigate to prevent the
voluntary or compulsory unitization of pore space rights necessary for site
Eminent Domain for Natural Gas Storage. Another potential analog to
CO2 sequestration is underground natural gas storage used by the natural gas industry
to manage seasonal variations in natural gas demand. Most natural gas storage
occurs in underground reservoirs. Developers have constructed over 400 such
storage sites in the lower 48 states, primarily in depleted natural gas fields in
Appalachia and the south-central states, as well is in aquifers in the Midwest.91 Like
other categories of energy infrastructure, some proposed natural gas storage projects
86 New Mexico Energy, Minerals, Natural Resources Department, Oil Conservation Division
“A Blueprint for the Regulation of Geologic Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide in New
Mexico,” (December, 2007): 36.
87 New Mexico Administrative Code § 126.96.36.199 N.(1)
88 New Mexico Energy, Minerals, Natural Resources Department (December, 2007): 5.
89 West Virginia Code § 22C-9-2(a)(8).
90 West Virginia Code § 22C-9-2(a)(9).
91 Energy Information Administration, U.S. Underground Natural Gas Storage
Developments: 1998-2005 (October 2006): 1.
have faced determined community opposition, which has prevented their construction
or added years to their development time.92
Although gas storage developers may encounter community opposition, they,
nonetheless, continue to open new storage facilities throughout the country.
According to the EIA, at least 26 new storage sites began operation over the last 10
years.93 Developers have been aided in these efforts by eminent domain statutes at
the federal or state levels which authorize the taking of private property needed for
a storage project if regulators deem it in the public interest. For projects involving
interstate gas trade, eminent domain authority resides with the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission, which approves the siting of natural gas storage facilities
under Section 7 of the Natural Gas Act.94
Some analysts have proposed applying existing eminent domain statutes to
secure privately-owned pore space for sequestration sites. However, eminent domain
is often perceived negatively by the general public, and thus might undermine public
support for CCS in general if widely invoked.
Use of ‘public utility’ classifications and eminent domain to ensure construction
on behalf of unregulated profit-making entities raises significant issues of
fairness and process. Even in cases where property owners come to terms with
developers, the community as a whole or other individuals may suffer95
uncompensated and persistent impacts.
Furthermore, as in the case of compulsory unitization, it is unclear to what extent
statutes enacted to support natural gas storage siting could be applied to CO2
sequestration sites. Ambiguity in state statutes about eminent domain authority for
CCS projects could lead to costly and time-consuming litigation by community
Key Policy Issues for Congress
Congressional consideration of potential CCS policies is still evolving, but so
far initiatives have focused more on CCS technology and economic mechanisms for
92 See, for example: Patrick Courreges, “Lake Peigneur Residents Celebrate,” The Baton
Rouge Advocate (June 19, 2008): 1BA; Avondale — Glen Elder Neighborhood Assoc.,
Application of Sacramento Natural Gas Storage, LLC, for a Certificate of Public
Convenience and Necessity for Construction and Operation of Gas Storage Facilities and
Requests for Related Determinations, Protest of Avondale — Glen Elder Neighborhood
Association, Before the Public Utilities Commission of the State of California, Application
No. 07-04-013 (January 24, 2008). [http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/efile/ST/83384.pdf]
93 Energy Information Administration, U.S. Underground Natural Gas Storage
Developments: 1998-2005 (October 2006): 1.
94 15 U.S.C. § 717; Application of this statute to natural gas storage is affirmed in Columbia
Gas Transmission Corp. v. An Exclusive Gas Storage Easement, 776 F.2d 125, 129 (1985).
95 Chris Deisinger, “The Backlash against Merchant Plants and the Need for a New
Regulatory Model,” The Electricity Journal (Vol 13, Issue 10: December 2000): 57.
carbon capture than on public acceptance and siting issues. Specific legislative
proposals in the 110th Congress appear to reflect a perception that CO2 capture
represents the largest physical hurdle to implementing widespread CCS, and that CO2
siting may not present as significant, or immediate, a barrier. While these
perceptions may be accurate, experience with the siting of other energy infrastructure
in the United States suggests that, sooner or later, potential community opposition to
CCS projects may become a factor. Industry and regulatory analysts have already
identified several key policy issues related specifically to pubic acceptance of CCS
infrastructure which may require congressional attention.
Community Acceptance and State Statutory Changes
Under current statutes, the federal government has limited authority to compel
the siting of CCS infrastructure should the development of such infrastructure be
hindered by community opposition. The siting of power plant facilities, pipelines,
and sequestration sites required for CCS is principally under state jurisdiction. In
many states, however, the applicability of existing oil, gas, and electric power siting
statutes (especially public review, eminent domain, and compulsory unitization
provisions) to CO2 sequestration projects is unclear. Consequently, a
congressionally-mandated CO2 control policy which involves CCS may be critically
dependent upon state legislatures to enact new CCS statutes in its support unless
federal siting authorities are significantly expanded (see section on federal siting
Although many state policy makers have indicated a willingness to advance
CCS, there are questions about how quickly, uniformly, or aggressively they will do
so — in part due to community acceptance concerns. One state that has considered
comprehensive CCS legislation is California. Proposed in 2007, California
Assembly Bill 705 would have required the state to develop standards and
regulations for geologic carbon sequestration. The bill was defeated largely due to
opposition from citizens groups that asserted that sequestration policies under the bill
could result in underprivileged communities inequitably bearing the environmental
costs of carbon control (by being forced to accept local sequestration sites).96 In
March 2008, Wyoming began to establish a statutory framework for CO2 injection
and sequestration with the enactment of two carbon sequestration statutes (H.B. 89
and H.B. 90). The Wyoming statutes passed without significant public opposition —
but they do not address property rights issues which are potentially contentious.
Wyoming state legislators subsequently have rejected drafting legislation on eminent
domain for CCS and have expressed reservations about provisions for “forced
pooling” of sequestration sites.97 Washington state has issued the nation’s first
96 California State Assembly, Committee on Natural Resources, Hearing on Assembly Bill
Executive Director, California Communities Against Toxics, “Carbon Sequestration:
Injection of Toxic Gases into Poor Communities or the Salvation of the Fossil Fuel Industry,
or Both?,” California Progress Report, Internet publication (April 22, 2007).
[ ht t p: / / www.cal i f or ni apr ogr essr epor t .com/ 2007/ 04/ car bon_sequest r .ht ml ]
97 Wyoming State Legislature, Joint Judiciary Interim Committee meeting minutes (June 2-3,
regulatory standards for carbon sequestration sites (under existing environmental
statutes), but they do not address property rights either.98
As the examples above show, community acceptance considerations may make
the passage of state CCS statutes more complicated and potentially contentious than
they might be otherwise. These complications may be exacerbated when they
involve regional sequestration projects where CO2 from one state would be
transported through, or sequestered in, another. Some experts suggest that local
constituencies, and the government officials representing them, could be less
supportive of siting and eminent domain policies where in-state communities may
bear CO2 risks for the benefit of distant populations.99 As Congress continues to
refine U.S. policies for carbon control, it may wish to consider how community
concerns may influence the ability of states to pass CCS legislation, and how such
state legislative processes fit into a possible federal timetable for national CO2
Affecting Public Acceptance of CCS
Because the general public is still largely unfamiliar with CCS, there may be
opportunities to influence public opinion in a way that could moderate community
opposition to the siting of CCS infrastructure projects. Numerous commentators and
stakeholders have called for proactive programs of public education and outreach to
establish positive public views of CCS while opinions are still being formed.
Consistent with this view, the seven regional partnerships in the Department of
Energy’s Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships (RCSP) initiative have each,
to varying degrees, directed activities towards public acceptance of carbon
sequestration. As one of these partnerships has stated, “[t]he limited public
awareness of carbon capture and storage (CCS) offers ... an opportunity ... for
introducing and presenting the issues related to CCS in a constructive,
problem-solving mode.”100 To this end, the partnerships have used community web
broadcasts, focus groups, fact sheets, town hall meetings, and a television
documentary to convey the science behind carbon sequestration technologies to
98 Doug Obey, “Washington Rule May Set State Benchmark For Underground CO2
Storage,” InsideEPA, (July 9. 2008).
[http://insideepa.com / sec u r e / d o c n u m . a s p ? d o c n u m =792008_washington&f=epa _2001.ask]
99 For a discussion in the context of electric transmission siting, see Ashley C. Brown and
Damon Daniels, “Vision Without Site; Site Without Vision,” The Electricity Journal (Vol.
100 Battelle, The Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (MRSCP): Phase I
Final Report,(December 2005): 214.
[http://188.8.131.52/us erdata/Phase%20I%20Repor t/MRCSP_Phase_I_Final.pdf]
public stakeholders.101 Some of these partnerships have developed specific public
outreach recommendations as part of their CCS public outreach pilot programs.102
Some analysts argue that the nature of CCS regulatory frameworks can influence
the degree of public acceptance or opposition towards the technology.103 The
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pursuing policies within its jurisdiction
with such considerations in mind. In proposed rules for underground injection of
CO2 under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA includes requirements for the
public notice of pending sequestration site permitting actions via newspaper
advertisements, postings, or mailings and providing a fact sheet or statement that
describes the planned injection operation and the principal facts and issues
considered in preparing the draft permit. The proposed rules would also require
permitting authorities to provide a 30-day comment period for public hearings on
specific sequestration projects, and a responsiveness summary for the public
record.104 In announcing its proposed rules, the EPA also “encourages permit
applicants and permit writers to use the Internet and other available tools to explain
potential [geologic sequestration] projects; describe the technology; and post
information on the latest developments including schedules for hearings, briefings,
and other opportunities for involvement.”105
While policy makers may agree as to the importance of public outreach in
winning public acceptance of CCS, doing so in support of national carbon policies
may be problematic because different communities may have markedly different
points of view on CCS infrastructure.
[T]he task of increasing awareness and knowledge among multiple “publics”...
who have different degrees of interest, concerns, levels of awareness, and desired
levels of involvement presents a challenge. An additional challenge is that of
engaging the public in the topic of CCS when the issues are generic and abstract
— yet, as the history of facility siting has shown, this situation is likely to change106
when the issues become immediate and close to home....
101 J.T. Litynski, S. Plasynski, H.G. McIlvried, C. Mahoney, and R.D. Srivastava, “The
United States Department of Energy’s Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships Program
Validation Phase,” Environment International (Vol. 34: 2008): 133.
102 Sallie E. Greenberg, “Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium Outreach Working
Group: Pilot Study Update,” Presentation at the U.S. EPA - Region 5 Midwest Regional
Sequestration Conference (Angola, IN: March 2007). [http://sequestration.org/publish/
103 Hiranya Fernando, John Venezia, Clay Rigdon, and Preeti Verma, Capturing King Coal:
Deploying Carbon Capture and Storage Systems in the U.S. at Scale, (World Resources
Institute: May, 2008): 25.
104 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Federal Requirements Under the Underground
Injection Control (UIC) Program for Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Geologic Sequestration (GS)
Wells, Proposed Rule, RIN 2040-AE98 (July 16, 2008):137.
105 Ibid: 138.
106 Battelle, The Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (MRSCP): Phase I
Final Report,(December 2005): 214.
In many cases, public education about CCS concepts and analogies may, indeed,
be enough to win community support for CCS projects. Officials in Tuscola, IL, for
example, have credited the Midwest Geologic Sequestration Consortium’s extensive
public outreach efforts with securing community support for the proposed Futuregen
CCS project — including power plant, pipeline, and sequestration sites.107 In other
cases, however, some argue that the best way to facilitate broad public acceptance of
CCS projects may be to prove their safety through near-term demonstration
projects.108 This appears to be a key motivation for the DOE’s RCSP initiative.
Nonetheless, according to some research, even successful technology demonstration
projects may not completely alleviate community concerns about the potential
negative impacts of CCS.
Whether focused on risks to the environment, public health, property values, or
other impacts, scientific assessments of potential risks and impacts are often
challenged by a lack of trust in both the data and the institutions that develop
them. Distrust of regulators, lack of confidence in experts, and the possibility of
accidents caused by human error all contribute to a high level of public concern,109
even in light of low levels of assessed risk.
Consequently, even given the history of safe CO2 injection for enhanced oil recovery,
and even with successful RCSP or other demonstrations, some segments of the public
may remain skeptical and unsupportive of CCS infrastructure development in their
communities. Furthermore, a focus on technology demonstrations to win public
approval carries significant risks if the these demonstrations do not perform as
expected. An MIT report assessing analogs to CCS infrastructure concluded that
“significant problems in the early years of a technology’s development affected
public perceptions and produced regulatory regimes and political battles that took110
decades to reform or resolve.”
As federal CCS policies continue to develop, Congress may seek to identify a
range of options to influence community attitudes toward CCS infrastructure.
Congress may ensure that the positive operational experiences of federally supported
CCS demonstrations are communicated transparently and effectively to public
audiences beyond scientific and regulatory stakeholders. Congress may seek to
establish structured initiatives for public outreach beyond technology demonstrations,
[http://184.108.40.206/us erdata/Phase%20I%20Repor t/MRCSP_Phase_I_Final.pdf]
107 Alta Long, Treasurer and Brian Moody, Office of Economic Development, City of
Tuscola, Illinois, Personal communication (July 9, 2008). The Futuregen project was
subsequently canceled by the Department of Energy for costs reasons.
108 Gregory R. Singleton, Geologic Storage of Carbon Dioxide: Risk Analyses and
Implications for Public Acceptance, Master’s thesis, Engineering Systems Division and
Department of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (June 2007): 97.
109 Carissa Schively, “Siting Geologic Sequestration: Problems and Prospects,” in Carbon
Capture and Sequestration: Integrating Technology, Monitoring, Regulation, Elizabeth
Wilson and David Gerard, editors (Blackwell Publishing, Oxford: 2007): 228.
110 D.M. Reiner and H.J. Herzog, “Developing a Set of Regulatory Analogs for Carbon
Sequestration,” Energy (Vol. 29 Nos.9-10: 2004): 1561-1570.
taking into account social, economic, and geographic differences among communities
near potential CCS infrastructure sites. As part of this effort, Congress may explore
potential partnerships with state or local agencies that have relevant siting
responsibilities and established relationships with potential CCS community
members. Congress may also seek to evaluate how public education and community
outreach may affect the timing, scale, and chances of success for future commercial
Federal Siting Authority for CCS
If Congress takes action on CO2 reduction, and if states are not able to site CCS
infrastructure in accord with those federal carbon control policies, Congress may find
itself facing proposals to strengthen federal siting authorities for CCS. As indicated
earlier in this report, there are existing models of federal siting authority for energy
infrastructure offering Congress a range of options to consider for CO2 infrastructure.
The telecommunications, transportation, and waste disposal industries offer
additional models. For some CCS infrastructure projects, such as CO2 pipelines,
existing analogies suggest fairly clear directions for a federal role. Other types of
CCS projects may require innovative approaches. It is beyond the scope of this
report to examine the applicability of any existing federal siting models to CCS, but
they are a source of both legal precedent and siting experience which may be helpful
in identifying promising approaches to spur CCS deployment. Additional policy
tools to encourage siting, such as federal economic incentives for communities with
CCS projects, may also warrant evaluation.
Apart from the details of potential federal siting authority for CCS projects, a
general policy question concerns when Congress may need to consider the need for
such federal authority. In the case of LNG infrastructure, Congress legislated the
“exclusive” federal LNG siting authority in P.L. 109-58 approximately three years
after the Hackberry LNG terminal siting application — the first such application in
25 years — by which time it was already apparent that community and state
opposition would create significant barriers to a national resurgence in LNG terminal
development.111 By contrast, Congress has not enacted broad federal siting authority
for interstate oil pipelines, although the federal government does regulate the rates
and operations of oil pipelines.
In the specific context of siting authority for CCS infrastructure, the need for
federal involvement may be driven fundamentally by Congressional expectations for
infrastructure deployment. As the FERC chairman testified before Congress in 2008
with regard to pipelines,
looking at what Congress did on gas pipeline siting, it started off with state
siting, and at some point it failed. In the views of Congress, they concluded,
state siting had failed.... And then Congress came in and changed the law,
exclusive and federal preemptive siting was the rule. The state siting has worked
for CO2 pipelines up to this point. But the network is much smaller than the oil
and gas pipeline networks.... So it really relates to, if this is the path the country
111 “Congress Begins Debate on FERC’s Jurisdiction over LNG Terminal Siting,” Inside
F.E.R.C.’s Gas Market Report (April 8, 2005): 13.
goes down, how big of a CO2 pipeline network are we going to need, and how112
quickly are we going to need it.
Given the legal and regulatory complexities, and taking into consideration
public ambivalence toward CCS projects, at least some states are likely to struggle
with the details of state CCS siting authority. Congress may, therefore, seek to
understand how public acceptance may influence the nature and timing of CCS
infrastructure regulation by the states and whether state siting efforts are likely to
satisfy possible Congressional objectives in terms of CCS scale and scope. If it
appears that state efforts are unlikely to do so, then Congress may examine the
possibility of a stronger federal role in CCS siting approval. Such a policy could be
controversial, however, and still might not guarantee success for CCS infrastructure
siting, as demonstrated by the challenges faced in interstate natural gas pipeline siting
which has been under federal jurisdiction for over 60 years. As a NARUC official has
stated, “no matter where siting responsibility falls, with State government or the
Federal government, siting energy infrastructure will not be easy and there will be no
‘quick fix’ to this situation.”113
Siting Challenges for CCS Alternatives
If public acceptance becomes a significant barrier to CCS infrastructure,
Congress may consider promoting more aggressively other energy sources — such
as solar, wind, geothermal, and nuclear power — to meet future energy needs within
the confines of CO2 emissions limits. Research has shown that parts of the general
public may prefer some of these power generation options over CCS projects.
Nonetheless, these other energy sources may still face public acceptance barriers of
their own. Although the number of renewable energy projects successfully sited in
the United States has grown significantly, some proposals have been delayed or
abandoned because local communities have rejected them.114 The Cape Wind Project
off Cape Cod, MA, is a nationally prominent example of such a project which faces
concerted community opposition and related litigation nearly eight years after it was
proposed — and has yet to receive siting approval.115 Nuclear power plants likewise
face community opposition. The National Commission on Energy Policy has stated
that “no electricity generating technology is likely to face more formidable challenges
to the siting of new facilities than nuclear power.”116 Although solar power plants
appear to face less community opposition than other types of renewable power plants,
community groups have fought against the electric transmission projects required to
112 The Honorable Joseph T. Kelliher, Chairman, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission,
Testimony before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Hearing on
Carbon Capture, Transportation, and Sequestration and Related Bills, S. 2323 and S. 2144
(January 31, 2008).
113 William M. Nugent (May 15, 2001).
114 Robert D. Kahn, “Siting Struggles: The Unique Challenge of Permitting Renewable
Energy Power Plants,” The Electricity Journal (Vol. 13, No. 2, March 2000): 21-33.
115 See, for example: Audra Parker, “It’s Time to Deny Cape Wind, Find Better Alternative,”
Marblehead Reporter (Marblehead, MA: June 15, 2008).
116 NCEP (2006): 26.
bring solar power from remote generation sites to urban centers of electricity
Although the specific types and locations of CCS, renewable, and nuclear
energy projects may differ, they present interrelated challenges and opportunities
with respect to siting and public acceptance. Indeed, the 2004 Carnegie Mellon
University study suggests that the U.S. public may exhibit a “strong desire to frame
decisions” about CCS in the context of other carbon control strategies, such as
developing renewable energy resources or investing in nuclear power.118
Consequently, it may be constructive for congressional policy makers to consider
CCS siting as part of a broader, integrated policy debate, including the siting of other
energy technologies which may help to satisfy national CO2 management objectives.
It follows that federal siting policies pursued for CCS infrastructure may have
implications for the siting of other energy infrastructure.
Community Acceptance of CCS in Perspective
Some analysts assert that community opposition to CCS siting may be the single
most important consideration in carbon control policy: “the gravest threat,” “the
overriding issue,” or “a potential show stopper.”119 While drawing needed attention
to the issue, such pronouncements are, perhaps, too extreme. First, while promoting
CCS as a potentially important means by which to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas
emissions, it is only one of several policy measures with the potential to do so.
Congress is also considering policies to promote energy conservation, renewable
energy, nuclear power, and hydrogen fuel — any of which could also yield major
reductions in CO2 emissions. Second, while the community acceptance barriers to
energy infrastructure in the United States are significant, they are also complex, and
not really amenable to “show stopper” characterizations. The more likely reality is
that new CCS infrastructure projects, if they are ultimately constructed, will be
distributed on a continuum of public acceptability, along with other types of energy
and industrial infrastructure projects. The key question for Congress is not whether
communities will accept CCS project siting at all, but where and to what degree,
relative to other energy infrastructure options. So far, there is little research or CCS
project experience in the United States offering specific insight into these questions
117 See for example: Community Alliance for Sensible Energy (CASE), Before the Public
Utilities Commission Of the State of California, In the Matter of the Application of San
Diego Gas & Electric Company Application (U-902) for a Certificate of Public Convenience
and Necessity for the Sunrise Powerlink Transmission Project, Pre-hearing Comments of
Community Alliance for Sensible Energy (CASE), Application No. 06-08-010 (September
118 Claire R. Palmgren, M. Granger Morgan, Wandi Bruine De Bruin, and David Keith,
“Initial Public Perceptions of Deep Geological and Oceanic Disposal of Carbon Dioxide,”
Environmental Science & Technology (Vol. 38, No. 24, 2004): 6448.
119 United Kingdom, House of Commons, Science and Technology Committee, Meeting UK
Energy and Climate Needs: The Role of Carbon Capture and Storage, Vol. 1 Report HC
[ h t t p : / / w w w.publications.p a r l i a me n t . u k/ p a / c m200506/cmselect/cms ctech/578/57808.htm]
from a comprehensive, national perspective. Consequently, legislators must rely on
siting analogies and their own judgment to develop policy perspectives on
community acceptance and CCS infrastructure needs.
If carbon control and associated CCS policies were narrowly targeted, or
expected to have only marginal impacts on the U.S. energy sector, Congress might
choose to defer consideration of community acceptance issues until CCS
technologies were more mature and states had more time to work out CCS siting
problems. But understanding public acceptance of CCS may take on greater urgency
in light of proposals to curb CO2 emissions quickly. The most prominent CO2
proposals in the 110th Congress seek reductions of nationwide CO2 emissions to 1990
levels or lower by 2030.120 Some expect CCS, along with conservation, renewables,
and other energy alternatives, to make a significant contribution to meeting these
goals. Even with complete public support, however, it would be a challenge to
commercialize carbon capture technology, establish comprehensive CCS standards
and regulations, design and finance CCS projects, secure numerous regulatory
approvals, and physically construct a CCS network of sufficient size to meet such
CO2 emissions reductions targets. Community opposition could complicate and
delay each element of CCS implementation, potentially adding years to a national
CCS deployment. Alternatively, community concerns could lead to a national
patchwork of CCS projects constructed only in publicly acceptable geographies (or
on public lands), creating inter-regional disparities and failing to meet congressional
objectives. If Congress sets goals for reducing U.S. emissions of CO2, the potential
influence of public acceptance on reaching them suggest that a more proactive
approach to addressing the latter might be in order.
An advantage of being in the early stages of CCS policy formation is that
Congress may have the opportunity to manage public acceptance issues before they
While [community opposition] is a frequent impediment to siting, it is not
insurmountable. Strategies that offer concrete benefits or promote trust in
affected communities and that remove legitimate arguments as camouflage for
self-interest can overcome public goods problems. Committing to compensation,
openness, information sharing, monitoring and enforcement can help diffuse
legitimate grievances. This strategy will add to the costs and lead to delays, but121
so too will a permitting process where the public feels disenfranchised.
As Congress considers CO2 policies going forward it may find significant benefits
in fully understanding the role of communities in the implementation of those
policies. Although efforts to do so may require added resources and attention in the
near term, they may be preferable to waiting for siting failures, as some have
suggested, and expending far greater effort to address them at a later time.
120 World Resources Institute, “Comparison of Legislative Climate Change Targets,”
(Washington, DC: June 18, 2008): 3.
121 D.M. Reiner and H.J. Herzog, “Developing a Set of Regulatory Analogs for Carbon
Sequestration,” Energy, (Vol. 29 Nos.9-10: 2004): 1561-1570.