Carbon Capture and Sequestration

AuthorWendy B. Jacobs and Michael T. Craig
Page 713
I. Introduction
According to the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Proj-
ect ( DDPP)1 and the United States Mid-Century Strategy
for Deep Decarbonization issued by the W hite House in
November 2016,2 carbon capture and sequestration (CC S)
can play a major role in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG)
emissions in the United States by 80% by 2050. CCS
technology has been the subject of years of study and is
in use as of August 2018 at 17 large-scale industrial and
power generating facilities in the United States and else-
where, with another ve facilities expected to come online
1. See J H. W  ., P  D D 
 U S, U.S. 2050 R, V 1: T R 16-
17 (Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project & Energy and Environmental
Economics, Inc., 2015), available at
technical-report.pdf [hereinafter DDPP T R] (describing
four scenarios in which greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are decreased by
80% in the United States by 2050, two of which include carbon capture and
sequestration (CCS); the other two scenarios focus on renewable and nuclear
energy. Of the two scenarios that include CCS, under the Mixed Scenario,
CCS would be deployed at new natural gas combined-cycle (NGCC) units,
which would account for roughly 13% of electricity generation in 2050 (36,
g. 29). Under the High CCS Scenario, CCS would be deployed rst at new
coal-red plants and later at new NGCC plants, which would collectively
account for nearly 60% of electricity generation in 2050 (id.)).
2. See T W H, U S M-C S  D
D (2016).
between late 2018 and 2020.3 Studies have conrmed that
most major point sources of carbon dioxide emissions in
the United States are situated within a manageable dis-
tance from areas that could host pipelines and sequestra-
tion facilities.4
3. See Global CCS Institute, Projects Database—Large-Scale CCS Facilities
(showing 17 operational plants globally),
[hereinafter Global CCS Institute, Large-Scale CCS Facilities]. e ve facilities
expected to come online by 2020 are the Gorgon Carbon Dioxide Injection
Project in Australia (2018), two projects in Alberta, Canada, associated with
the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line (2019), and two in China are projected to be
operational by 2020 (Sinopec Qilu Petrochemical and Yanchang Integrated
Carbon Capture and Storage and Demonstration Facility). See Global CCS
Institute, Projects Database—Gorgon Carbon Dioxide Injection, https://perma.
cc/Y7DG-H6KX; Global CCS Institute, Projects Database—Alberta Carbon
Trunk Line (“ACTL”) With North West Redwater Partnership’s Sturgeon Renery
CO2 Stream,; Global CCS Institute, Projects
Database—Alberta Carbon Trunk Line (“ACTL”) With Agrium CO2 Stream, e Kemper County integrated gasication
combined-cycle (IGCC) project was expected to be operational in 2017, but
operations and startup activities were suspended in June 2017. See Southern
Co. & Mississippi Power Co., Current Report (Form 8-K) 4 (June 28, 2017),; see also Ryan L. Nave, Mississippi Power Co.
to Suspend Kemper Coal Operations, M. T (June 28, 2017), https://
4. See U.S. E P A (EPA) R I
A   F S  P  G
G E F N, M,  R S
S: E U G U 5-17, n.21 (2015) (EPA-
452/R-15-005); see also J J. D, C D C 
G S 29 (2006) (noting that 95% of the 500 largest existing
carbon dioxide point sources are located within 50 miles of a possible geologic
sequestration reservoir); J K, T F  C 58 (2007);
Chapter 28
Carbon Capture and Sequestration
by Wendy B. Jacobs and Michael Craig
is chapter addresses the use of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) to achieve signicant reductions in
emissions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by 2050. Regardless of one’s views about the cause, pace, or
even existence of climate change, the time is ripe to drive CCS forward. National and state investment in and
support of CCS are completely consistent with the Trump Administration’s goals to (1)invest in infrastructure
projects; (2)continue U.S. reliance on fossil fuels; (3)create jobs; and (4)make America great. CCS can help
achieve these goals and more. is chapter provides an overview and explains why, despite much study and
decades of use of the technology, its widespread adoption in the United States has not yet occurred. e chapter
also describes the potential of CCS for achieving deep decarbonization of the U.S. power sector and explains
the key components of CCS. e chapter identies and recommends federal and state legal reforms necessary
to drive CCS forward.
Page 714 Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States
Widespread adoption of CCS in the United States has
not occurred for four major reasons. First and foremost
is cost: both the high cost of capturing and compressing
carbon dioxide at power plants and the uncerta in extent of
potential liability and cost associated with sequestration.
Federal and state legal reforms ca n overcome this hin-
drance, as spelled out in Sections III-V. e second major
obstacle is the absence of a strong national legislative or
policy driver. A national price or cap on carbon dioxide
emissions would drive t he technolog y forw ard in appli-
cations across multiple industrial sectors in the United
States. e third hurdle to widespread adoption of CCS
has been the persistently low price of natural ga s combined
with the current federal regulatory regime, which together
incentivize near-term construction of natural gas plants
with no CCS. Given the low price of natural gas and the
absence of any national requirement (direct or indirect)
that natural ga s combined-cycle (NGCC) plants use CCS,
construction of NGCC plants to replace coal-red plants
as baseload generators has been occurring and will con-
tinue.5 Absent prompt legal reforms, as suggested in Sec-
tions III-V below, these NGCC plants will be operational
and emitting signica nt quantities of carbon dioxide for
decades to come, undermining the abilit y of CCS to serve
as a major contributor to carbon dioxide emissions reduc-
tions in the United States. Retrotting these plants later
will be more expensive and inecient.6
Fourth, the existing pipeline infrastructure for trans-
porting captured ca rbon dioxide from its source to suitable
sequestration facilities is insu cient in location and size to
carry the quantity of carbon dioxide that a national driver
for capture would generate. Low oil prices pose a signi-
cant challenge to private investment in such pipelines,
making it uneconomic to transport c arbon dioxide to
existing oil elds for use to enha nce oil recovery.7 Pipeline
expansion is stymied not only by cost, but also by public
James J. Dooley et al., A CO2-Storage Supply Curve for North America and
Its Implications for the Deployment of Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage
Systems, in P   7 I C 
G G C T 593 (Edward S. Rubin et al.
eds., Elsevier 2004).
5. See U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Natural Gas Expected to
Surpass Coal in Mix of Fuel Used for U.S. Power Generation in 2016, T
 E (Mar. 16, 2016),; EIA, A
E O 2017 tbl. 8 (2017),; I
S  ., T B G, E N G  R-
  ERCOT—P IV 15 (2016),
(projecting that low natural gas prices could cause the retirement of more than
60% of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ (ERCOT’s) coal producing
plants by 2022).
6. e National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) estimates that the
capture cost of a retrotted NGCC plant is $9/ton of captured carbon di-
oxide higher than that of a new NGCC plant built with capture equipment.
K G, NETL, NETL S   E F
 CO2 C R   U.S. P P F 10 (2014),
7. See U.S. D  E (DOE), S  R C
C, U,  S I W R
8 (2017) [hereinafter DOE W R].
opposition and a lack of coordinated regional approaches.
ese barriers can be add ressed and overcome as suggested
in Sections III, IV, and V.
Signicant legal reforms t hat include a combination of
nancial incentives, mandates, and other forms of gov-
ernment support are needed to drive full-scale diusion
of CCS technology in the United States.8 is chapter
recommends a variety of legal reforms to expand CCS
deployment on coal-red and NGCC plants in line with
DDPP projections. Recommended legal reforms would
not only require the use of CCS at coal-red and NGCC
plants, but would also facilitate the sale of and help create
markets for the higher-cost electricity generated by plants
equipped with CCS and would provide substantial invest-
ment in CCS and its associated infra structure.
Assuming the continued absence of federal legislation
that imposes a national cap or price on carbon dioxide
emissions, this chapter suggest s: (1) issuance of presiden-
tial and gubernatorial Executive Orders to cre ate federal
and state markets for purchase of power generated by
CCS-equipped power plants; (2) enactment of federal
and state legislation to provide nancial incentives to
spur capture of carbon dioxide; (3) tightening of federal
and state regulatory requirements for new and ex isting
sources to direc tly or indirect ly require widespread use
of CCS; (4) action by federal and state actors to stream-
line permitting and improve interagency coordination;
(5)expansion of public-private partnerships to build out
the existing pipeline infrastructure (perhaps providing
eminent domain authority to install the pipelines needed
to transport captured carbon dioxide from early adopt-
ers of CCS to the proposed federal sequestration sites);
and (6) use of federal funds to build a nd operate several
sequestration facilities on federally owned la nds located
near existing or proposed large sources of captured car-
bon dioxide with the federal government retaining t he
long-term liability associated with permanent sequestra-
tion of the captured carbon dioxide.
Together with other federal and state nancial and reg-
ulatory incentives described in Sections III-V below, these
suggested legal reforms could overcome the chief obstacles
to CCS deployment in the United States and help achieve
the economy-wide 80% GHG emissions reductions
needed to deeply decarbonize the United States by 2050.
e suggestions in this chapter build on lessons learned
from the eorts to date in the United States to build or ret-
rot power plants with CCS. One key lesson is that try ing
to integrate all aspects of CC S into a single project is nan-
8. Technology diusion brings costs down. Margaret R. Taylor et al., Regulation
as the Mother of Innovation: e Case of SO2 Control, 27 L  P’ 348-78
(2005) (using the history of sulfur dioxide control to show that increased
diusion of technology results in signicant and predictable operating cost
reductions in existing systems, as well as notable eciency improvements
and capital cost reductions in new systems).
Carbon Capture and Sequestration Page 715
cially challenging in the current economic environment of
low natural gas and oil prices. To drive CCS forward, this
chapter suggests disaggregating the three components of
CCS—c arbon dioxide capture, carbon dioxide transporta-
tion, and carbon dioxide sequestration—for separate a lbeit
coordinated legal and na ncial treatment. For the earliest
projects, it is recommended that the federal government
not only provide more funding and support for carbon
dioxide capture, but also make some federal land available
for sequestration and assume postclosure liabilit y for some
sequestration sites in order to help subsidize widespread
deployment and diusion of CCS. ese suggestions are
discussed below in Sections III, IV, and V.
II. CCS Technologies, Applications,
and Potential for Achieving Deep
Decarbonization of the U.S. Power
CCS is already in use at 17 large power plant and indus-
trial facilities worldwide.9 e DDPP envisions signicant
expansion of CCS deployment in order to reduce GHG
emissions in the United States by 80% by 2050. Speci-
cally, the DDPP considers two scenarios or cases that rely
on CCS and two that do not. e rst t wo, the Mixed and
High CCS Scenarios, envision coal- and gas-red power
plants equipped with CCS that wil l generate 13% and
60% of electricity, respectively, in 2050. However, given
legal and nancia l challenges associated with CCS, signi -
cant reforms and incentives will be necessary to achieve
these DDPP targets. In particu lar, CCS will need to be
employed at new NGCC plants. As will be shown, this is a
viable and economically sensible outcome. Since the DDPP
gradually phases in CCS to meet its 2050 targets, and
given projected retirements of existing NGCC plants, the
DDPP relies primarily on CCS deployment at new plants.
However, if the federal new source performance standa rd
(NSPS) for carbon dioxide emissions from NGCCs is not
tightened in the near term, NGCC plants without CCS
will continue to be built, requiring CCS retrots later in
order to achieve the DDPP outcome.
A. Potential Contribution of CCS to Reducing
Carbon Dioxide Emissions
As a technical matter, CCS can play a key role in reducing
carbon dioxide emissions from the U.S. power sector. e
technological components of CCS have been demonstrated
and are already in commercial use at a variety of electric
power and industrial facilities domestically and abroad.10
9. Global CCS Institute, Large-Scale CCS Facilities, supra note 3.
10. As of August 2018, 17 large-scale CCS-equipped electric power and industrial
facilities were operational worldwide. Global CCS Institute, Large-Scale CCS
Carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation and
other industrial sources currently account for more than
50% of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States.11
e DDPP estimates that CCS could help achieve a nearly
80% reduction in GHG emissions in the United States by
2050.12 e DDPP analyzed two case s that rely on CCS to
help achieve such reduct ions.13 Under the Mixed Scenario
(in which CCS is but one of a number of carbon dioxide
emission-reducing strategies being analyzed), CCS would
be deployed at new NGCC units. Under this case, these
plants will account for roughly 13% of electricity genera-
tion in 2050, which is twice as much electricity generation
as this case shows occurring from fossil fuel-red plants
without CCS.14 Under the High CCS Scenario (in which
CCS is the primary carbon dioxide emissions reduction
strategy), CCS is deployed rst at new coal-red plants,
then at new NGCC plants. Together, these CCS-equipped
generators would account for nearly 60% of electricity gen-
eration in 2050.15 In both cases, the DDPP predicts that
CCS deployment not only signicantly reduces carbon
dioxide emissions, but also ensures a dispatchable source
of low-carbon electricity that can be used to balance inter-
Facilities, supra note 3. Domestic CCS installations, which account for nine
of the 17 large-scale CCS facilities worldwide, are discussed in Section II.C.
Internationally, large-scale CCS facilities are located in Canada, Norway,
Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. ese CCS projects
include the Boundary Dam coal-red power plant, a 160 gross megawatt
(MW) unit in Canada; Sleipner, a natural gas processing facility in Norway
that has been operational since 1996; and Quest, a hydrogen production
facility in Canada. See Global CCS Institute, Large-Scale CCS Facilities, supra
note 3; Carbon Capture & Sequestration Technologies @ MIT, Boundary
Dam Fact Sheet: Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage Project [hereinafter
Boundary Dam Fact Sheet], China also has
three large-scale CCS projects in advanced planning stages. China’s key CCS
project is “GreenGen,” which includes a 400 MW power plant in Tianjin,
and is being developed by a consortium of Chinese companies, including
China Huaneng Group, and a U.S. company, Peabody Energy, for operations
in the 2020s. See Carbon Capture & Sequestration Technologies @ MIT,
GreenGen Fact Sheet: Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage Project [hereinafter
GreenGen Fact Sheet],; see also Global CCS
Institute, Projects Database—Huaneng GreenGen IGCC Large-Scale System
(Phase 3), Another CCS project with even
larger capacity (1,200 MW) is in the planning stage. Carbon Capture &
Sequestration Technologies @ MIT, Lianyungang Project Sheet: Carbon Dioxide
Capture and Storage Project, Countries that
have operated or are operating pilot-scale power plants equipped with CCS
include the United States, Germany, Sweden, Spain, China, France, Italy, the
Netherlands, United Kingdom, Norway, and Australia. See Carbon Capture
& Sequestration Technologies @ MIT, Power Plant Carbon Dioxide Capture
and Storage Projects—Pilot CCS Projects [hereinafter Pilot CCS Projects],
11. EPA, I  U.S. G G E  S: 1990-2014
ES-5 tbl. ES-2 (2016) (showing U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by source).
12. See DDPP T R, supra note 1, at 16-17. e DDPP uses a
stock rollover process to forecast energy infrastructure retirements and ad-
ditions. e model itself does not solve for deployment of carbon dioxide
mitigation technologies given a carbon dioxide atmospheric concentration
target, policies, or other forcing mechanisms. Rather, the user inputs a port-
folio of carbon dioxide mitigation measures, and the DDPP model provides
a pathway for achieving those measures while abiding by energy resource,
energy distribution, and power system operating constraints. Id. at 6-9.
13. Id. at 16-17.
14. Id. at 36 g. 29.
15. Id.

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