EPA gives North Dakota power to regulate underground CO2 storage

By Tim Albrecht | April 12, 2018

North Dakota became the first state to receive federal approval to regulate underground storage of carbon dioxide April 10. The move puts North Dakota in control of carbon storage within the state, while benefitting the state's lignite, oil and gas, and renewable energy industries, according to North Dakota industry leaders.

U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt signed North Dakota’s application Tuesday morning, granting the state primary regulatory authority over the underground injection of carbon dioxide for long-term storage, according to a statement from the North Dakota Industrial Commission. The state is expected to receive authority in about a week.

Underground storage of carbon dioxide is classified as Class VI injection, also known as carbon capture and storage (CCS). CCS refers to the capture and deep underground injection of manmade carbon dioxide into a geologic formation that is confined and safe for storage.

The certainty in regulation along with extensive research done at the University of North Dakota’s Energy and Environmental Research Center will put North Dakota at the forefront of carbon capture and storage, while also helping the ethanol industry in the state, says Doug Goehring, North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner.

“North Dakota’s ethanol industry stands to benefit greatly in this decision,” Goehring says. “CCS can be implemented in the ethanol production process to capture the carbon dioxide before it is emitted into the atmosphere. The ability to have carbon storage will make North Dakota ethanol the lowest carbon ethanol product in the United States.”

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who chairs the North Dakota Industrial Commission, says the approval provides “long-term viability” for the state’s lignite coal and energy industries, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“We believe states are in the best position to regulate this activity, and the Oil and Gas Division is ready and capable to take the lead on this responsibility,” Burgum says. “We’re grateful to Administrator Pruitt and the EPA for their thoughtful, proactive and expeditious efforts following years of delay and to North Dakota’s congressional delegation for continually pushing for approval of our primacy application.”