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Sen. Salazar: ‘Carbon Capture is Central to Our Nation's Energy Policy and Environmental Security'


Location: Washington, DC

Today, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to address the regulatory aspects of carbon dioxide (CO2) capture, transportation and sequestration. As a member of the Energy Committee, Senator Salazar believes reducing carbon emissions through carbon capture and storage (CCS) is central to our Nation's energy policy and environmental security and we must work to make it cost-feasible, reliable and effective. Senator Salazar has supported several provisions and initiatives that continue to expand CCS technologies and develop CCS infrastructure.

At today's hearing, the committee heard testimony on two bills: S. 2144, which would require the Secretary of Energy to conduct a study of the feasibility relating to the construction and operation of pipelines and carbon dioxide sequestration facilities; and S. 2323, a bill to provide for the conduct of carbon capture and storage technology research, development and demonstration projects.

Below is Senator Salazar's statement as prepared for today's committee hearing:

"Capturing carbon dioxide at its source and safely storing it to avoid its release into the atmosphere will be essential to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. I believe carbon capture and storage (CCS) should be a top priority in our nation's energy policy. There is little doubt that a successful domestic CCS program will boost our nation's coal industry, and that a low-carbon footprint coal industry is critical to our nation's energy and environmental security.

"To make CCS an effective, reliable, and cost-feasible reality, we need to move forward simultaneously on two fronts: we need to aggressively develop both the technical knowledge necessary and the regulatory framework for CCS infrastructure development.

"On the technical front, I sponsored the provision of the new energy bill that directs the United States Geological Survey and the Departments of Energy and the Interior to coordinate a national assessment of our carbon dioxide storage capacity. I also fought to include the provisions that will expand DOE's CCS research and development programs, with a particular eye towards the large-scale CCS demonstration projects that are crucial to achieving commercial viability. I am looking forward to learning about DOE's most recent progress today.

"I am glad that today's hearing will focus attention on the second front - the regulatory front. We need to establish a regulatory framework for the transport and storage of carbon dioxide. As you know I am an original cosponsor of Senator Coleman's bill, S. 2144, the Carbon Dioxide Pipeline Study Act of 2007, that would instruct the federal agencies present today to perform a broad feasibility study of the construction and operation of a national CCS infrastructure.

"There are open questions about what it will take to create a national CCS infrastructure. We need a thorough assessment of our nation's geologic CO2 storage capacity and a critical appraisal of the pipeline network required and the issues of transporting carbon dioxide from its sources to storage sites. Even though short-haul carbon dioxide pipelines already exist in the U.S. for the purposes of enhanced oil recovery - we've been employing these techniques in my state of Colorado for more than thirty years - a more expansive carbon dioxide pipeline network clearly raises new issues about pipeline network requirements and regulation, regulatory classification of carbon dioxide, and pipeline safety.

"The DOE through its Carbon Sequestration Regional Partnerships, the DOT through the independent U.S. Surface Transportation Board with regulatory jurisdiction for transporting carbon dioxide, the FERC with its experience in the regulation of natural gas and oil pipelines, and the EPA through its underground injection control program have the necessary expertise to assess the important issues dealing with carbon dioxide pipelines that would be needed to handle large-scale carbon sequestration in this country.

"We introduced this pipeline study bill because there has been a void at the federal level in the attention given to the infrastructure needed to bring CCS to fruition. We believe your agencies have the regulatory authority to begin such a feasibility study now, but I am concerned by the lack of coordinated federal action to answer these fundamental questions. I look forward to having a frank discussion regarding our path forward."

Carbon sequestration occurs when carbon dioxide is captured at its source and stored instead of being released to the atmosphere. Carbon capture and storage has attracted interest as a way to mitigate global climate change because large amounts of CO2 emitted from fossil fuel use and industrial activities in the United States can potentially be reduced or eliminated through sequestration.

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