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Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage and the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009

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The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACESA) provides a number of important provisions that will facilitate the demonstration and deployment of carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) technologies. This document provides a brief overview of the most important of these as well as some considerations for improvement. Coal use is responsible for over 40 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, and significant, deliberate action will be required to reduce these emissions. The ACESA lays a strong foundation for moving CCS technology to scale by reducing costs and providing funding for demonstrations.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 has the following strengths:

  • Establishes regulations for geologic storage. Amends the Clean Air Act and Safe Drinking Water Act to establish rules for geologic storage, including financial responsibility for injected carbon dioxide, monitoring, record keeping, public participation and certification for storage sites. (Sec. 813)
  • Requires emissions reporting for geologic storage sites. Geologic storage sites are included as a point of regulation, with mandatory emissions reporting required beginning in 2012. (Sec. 700 and Sec. 722)
  • Requires a formal report and evaluation of regulatory framework on 3-year intervals. The bill requires the EPA to formally report data on geologic storage sites, evaluate the performance of the geologic storage sites, and reassess the regulatory framework for geologic storage sites to Congress once every three years.
  • Establishes a task force to design legal frameworks. The bill establishes a task force to provide recommendations to Congress within two years that include a study of the ability of existing laws and insurance mechanisms to manage risks associated with CCS, the implications and considerations for different models for liability assumption, and subsurface property rights. (Sec. 113)
  • Requires interagency study on carbon dioxide pipelines. The bill requires the Energy Department to lead an interagency assessment of the need for and barriers to the construction and operation of carbon dioxide pipelines. The study will identify technical siting, financial and regulatory barriers, and evaluate market risk and safety requirements, with the goal of recommending regulatory, financing and siting options that could mitigate market risk and help ensure CCS-dedicated carbon dioxide pipelines are constructed. (Sec.113)
  • Promotes R&D and early deployment of CCS. The bill establishes a Carbon Storage Research Corporation to be run by the Electric Power Research Institute (as proposed in HR 1869, introduced by Rep. Boucher). The Corporation would use funds collected through a feed-in tariff to issue grants and financial assistance for commercial-scale CCS demonstrations. Funding is capped at $1B per year for no more than 10 years. The bill also includes provisions for governance, government oversight, information sharing and intellectual property for both the Corporation and projects it would undertake. (Sec.114)
  • Provides direct cash payments for stored carbon dioxide. The bill provides fixed payments to facility per tonne of carbon dioxide captured and stored. The precise payment is to be determined by the Administrator based on the incremental costs of CCS and other factors. Payment is available for coal or petroleum coke-fired electric generating units with 250MW or greater nameplate capacity, and to industrial sources that emit more than 250,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year (industrial source payments are not to exceed 15% total funding). Funds will be divided into tranches with the payment on sliding scales with higher payments for greater percentage capture as well as higher payment for the first installations. This provision provides a mechanism for offsetting the technical risk assumed by early-adopters and an incentive to capture and store greater percentages of carbon dioxide than is required under the performance standards (Sec. 115)
  • Sets performance standards for new coal-fired power plants. The bill amends the Clean Air Act to require new coal-fired power plants to meet performance standards. The EPA Administrator must review the standards and may tighten them depending on the performance of commercially-available technology. (Sec. 812)
    • Standards apply to all plants permitted after January 1, 2009 where 30% or more of their fuel is coal and/or petroleum coke.
    • Plants permitted from 2009-2014 must emit no more than 1,100 pounds/MWh no later than 225 and potentially earlier depending on the level of commercial deployment of CCS technology.
    • Plants permitted from 2015-2019 must emit no more than 1,100 pounds/MWh at start
    • Plants permitted from 2020 onward must emit no more than 800 pounds/MWh at start

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