U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20240
December 1, 2011
In Reply Refer To:
2920 (350) P
EMS TRANSMISSION 12/09/2011
Instruction Memorandum No. 2012-035
To: All WO and Field Officials
From: Assistant Director, Minerals and Realty Management
Subject: Interim Guidance on Exploration and Site Characterization for Potential Carbon Dioxide Geologic Sequestration
Program Area: Land Use Permit Management.
Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) provides interim guidance on processing land use proposals and permit applications for exploration and site characterization studies for potential subsurface geologic sequestration (GS) of carbon dioxide (CO2) on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
This IM describes potential exploration and site characterization activities, identifies permit requirements, and addresses competitive interests, diligent site characterization, environmental review, and technical assistance related to processing land use proposals and permit applications for CO2 GS exploration and site characterization. Liability and stewardship responsibilities for long-term CO2 GS development projects are yet to be resolved and may require new Federal legislation. Therefore, additional policy and guidance will be issued addressing the separate application, environmental review, authorization, and monitoring processes for long-term CO2 GS development projects after those issues have been adequately addressed.
Policy/Action: It is the BLM’s policy to allow environmentally responsible exploration and site characterization studies in acceptable areas on public lands to assess the feasibility of using public lands for potential CO2 GS development projects in compliance with applicable state and Federal requirements. This policy applies only to the BLM-administered surface estate with or without the mineral estate. All BLM land use permits for CO2 GS exploration and site characterization studies will contain stipulations requiring permitees to avoid interference with operations authorized under the Mineral Leasing Act, as amended, and other applicable state and Federal laws, and to prevent damage to potentially recoverable mineral resources and other surface and subsurface authorized uses. Permits may also be required from other agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and must be addressed with prospective proponents as noted in the Discussion of Proposals section of this policy.
This interim policy is focused solely on CO2 GS exploration and site characterization studies and does not apply to the long-term authorization of CO2 GS development projects. This interim policy neither applies to nor modifies in any way current procedures under the Mineral Leasing Act, as amended; Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), as amended; Safe Drinking Water Act; or any other state or Federal authorities that authorize CO2 injection for the purpose of enhanced hydrocarbon recovery.
Land Use Plan Conformance: As required by 43 CFR 1610.5-3, the BLM must determine land use plan conformance on an individual project basis. The BLM anticipates exploration and site characterization activities will generally be in conformance with land use plans. Exploration and site characterization studies for CO2 GS consist of activities necessary to obtain information to document permit area boundaries as well as surface and subsurface ownership, delineate the area of review, and meet state and Federal criteria. These exploration and site characterization studies will generally entail remote land surveying, seismic imaging, and use of existing and/or constructing temporary access roads. One or more routine exploration wells (i.e., stratigraphic characterization, borehole geophysics, and pressure testing) may be drilled and, possibly, one or more test injection wells drilled to inject ambient air, CO2, or nitrogen. These studies may include conducting pump tests that involve withdrawals of small amounts of groundwater, reviewing existing well logs or other geologic data, and completion of a monitoring plan. Depending on the site, areas for a portable water storage tank, retention pond, onsite compressor, and/or onsite fuel tank may also be needed.
To determine an area’s CO2 storage potential and the likelihood of receiving proposals for exploration and site characterization activities, the National Energy Technology Laboratory’s Carbon Sequestration Atlas of the United States and Canada, Third Edition, and its associated National Carbon Sequestration Database and Geographic Information System (http://www.netl.doe.gov/technologies/carbon_seq/natcarb/) are valuable references. As they become available, CO2 GS assessments performed by the U.S. Geological Survey will provide more accurate estimates on a formation-wide scale.
Discussion of Proposals: BLM will encourage prospective land use proponents to schedule a meeting with the BLM as early as possible, before filing a land use proposal pursuant to the permit regulations at 43 CFR 2920.2-1. By this policy, the BLM will require all land use proponents to schedule and participate in a meeting with the BLM prior to submitting a land use proposal for proposed CO2 GS exploration and site characterization studies on public lands. The BLM will not accept any exploration and site characterization proposals without first holding a meeting to discuss the draft proposal and other items identified below.
The meeting will address the suitability of proposed exploration and site characterization studies based on existing land use plans, identify the administrative requirements for a permit and potential conflicts with other surface and subsurface land uses, and review the proposal content as outlined in 43 CFR 2920.2-4(a), as well as the items below:
A permit is not required for casual use of the public lands as defined in the regulations at 43 CFR 2920.0-5(k). During the discussion of the proposal, the land use proponent should be advised that certain non-commercial exploration and site characterization activities that do not cause surface disturbance may be conducted on the public lands, such as surveying, marking routes, and collecting data in compliance with local land use plans. These activities will allow the land use proponent to collect sufficient initial data to prepare a thorough land use permit proposal and, ultimately, application and plan of development (POD) (Attachment 1).
Proposal Review: Proposals must be reviewed in accordance with 43 CFR 2920.2-5 to determine if the public lands included in the proposal are appropriate for CO2 GS exploration and site characterization studies and if the proposed studies conform to the applicable land use plan.BLM’s determination that an land use proposal does not conform to the approved land use plan may be appealed by the proponent in accordance with 43 CFR 4.400. BLM shall advise the proponent of its determination and provide a written explanation of the reasons for non-conformance with an existing land use plan. The authorized officer may consider a non-conforming proposal for land use as an application to amend or revise the existing land use plan pursuant to 43 CFR Part 1600.
Early Stakeholder Coordination: BLM will encourage land use proponents to conduct or participate in early informal contacts with local community leaders, existing authorized users (both surface and subsurface), adjacent landowners, tribes, and other interested parties prior to publication of required notices (43 CFR 2920.4) and initiation of the environmental review process. Because exploration and site characterization studies associated with potential future CO2 GS is a new type of action on the public lands and there is potential for high public interest, early and ongoing coordination with stakeholders is important in increasing awareness and avoiding potential conflicts, especially in areas where other uses exist.
Notice of Realty Action: The public notification requirements of 43 CFR 2920.4 will apply to all CO2 GS exploration and site characterization proposals. These requirements include, at a minimum, publication of a Notice of Realty Action (NORA) in the Federal Register and in a newspaper of general circulation in the vicinity of the public lands included in the CO2 GS exploration and site characterization land use proposal once a week for 3 consecutive weeks thereafter.
Application Procedure: Applications for CO2 GS exploration and site characterization studies on public lands must be filed under Section 302(b) of FLPMA and 43 CFR 2920 using Form 2920-1 (Land Use Application and Permit) which may be obtained from any BLM field office or at http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/more/lands/land_use_authorizations.html. Applications for CO2 GS exploration and site characterization permits will not be accepted until a discussion of the proposal has taken place, a proposal has been submitted to the BLM, and publication of required notices and the NORA are complete (43 CFR 2920.4(d)). Applications must be reviewed to determine conformance to the NORA in accordance with 43 CFR 2920.5-3. Applications not meeting these requirements may be denied.
The BLM will keep confidential any information in the application the applicant has marked as “confidential” or “proprietary” in accordance with the procedures in the BLM Manual 1278 to the extent allowed by law. Most of the information provided in a permit application is public information, available to anyone filing a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
(5 U.S.C. § 552). Concerned applicants should discuss their particular situation with a BLM field office FOIA Coordinator prior to submitting an application.
In instances where field offices, as of the effective date of this IM, have pending applications filed, the BLM will promptly request such applicants to withdraw their applications and reapply under the provisions identified above. Withdrawn applications replaced with applications for permits will be allowed to retain the original “application filed date” for purposes of determining application processing order.
Application Content: To be considered complete, a permit application for CO2 GS exploration and site characterization must contain information as required by 43 CFR 2920.5-2 and be of sufficient detail to initiate the environmental analysis process, and any necessary agency or tribal consultations as determined by the BLM authorized officer. In addition, processing fees as described in the cost recovery section below must be received. Applicants must use a POD to describe their application information. Attachment 1 provides an outline of required POD information.
Applications must address all facilities (i.e., roads, wells, equipment, vehicles) as well as the subsurface pore space to be delineated and studied during testing, including related facilities proposed to be located on public land but outside the permit area. Since CO2 GS exploration and site characterization areas will be based on subsurface geologic formations for commercial scale CO2 GS storage, field offices should anticipate that applications may involve thousands of acres.
Competitive Interest: BLM may offer land use permits for CO2 GS site characterization and studies either on a competitive or non-competitive basis pursuant to 43 CFR 2920.5-4(a). Competitive permits may be appropriate “if, in the judgment of the authorized office, a competitive interest exists or if no equities, such as prior use of the lands, warrant non-competitive land use authorizations.” 43 CFR 2920.5-4(a). The authorized officer shall consider bids on the basis of the public benefit, the financial and technical capability of the bidder to conduct the project, and the bid offered. 43 CFR 2920.5-4(a). The BLM will only initiate a competitive process if two or more applications are received for partially or completely overlapping permit areas., Because CO2 capture and storage is an emerging technology, a competitive interest for exploration and site characterization may only be demonstrated by overlapping permit applications that meet diligent site characterization requirements and technical and financial capability requirements as determined by the BLM authorized officer. In addition, a substantial financial investment and commitment of resources are required of an applicant to adequately conduct CO2 GS exploration and site characterization studies. Therefore, authorized officers must give careful consideration of the economic disadvantages that may be imposed upon applicants as identified in the regulations at 43 CFR 2920.5-4(b).
Except when competitive procedures are deemed appropriate, as identified above, all CO2 GS exploration and site characterization permit applications will be processed on a non-competitive, first-come, first-served basis beginning with the first complete application received with applicable cost recovery. The processing of CO2 GS exploration and site characterization permit applications on a non-competitive basis is consistent with the Presidential Memorandum dated February 3, 2010, that established an Interagency Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage (http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/more/lands/land_use_authorizations.html). The Task Force was directed to develop, within 180 days of the date of the memorandum, a proposed plan to overcome the barriers to the widespread, cost-effective deployment of CO2 capture and storage within 10 years, with a goal of bringing five (5) to ten (10) commercial demonstration projects online by 2016.
To minimize ground disturbance and environmental impacts, BLM should encourage applicants who may have an interest in a common area to establish a partnership or cooperative agreement that establishes compatible use of the site among the applicants. If the applicants agree to establish a partnership or cooperative agreement, a single amended application may be filed along with a description of the terms of the partnership or cooperative agreement. If the applicants choose not to form a partnership or cooperative agreement, the BLM will process the first complete application which includes cost recovery or initiate a competitive process to determine the successful applicant following the procedures in the regulations (43 CFR 2920.5-4).
Cost Recovery: Applications for exploration and site characterization permits are subject to cost recovery fees for application processing and permit monitoring per 43 CFR 2920.6. An application will not be considered complete until the appropriate processing fees have been paid.
Acreage: The lands involved in the permit area must be described based upon the public land rectangular surveys and examples in Specifications for Descriptions of Tracts of Land, (1979) (http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/more/cadastralsurvey/tools.html). The permit area must be configured to encompass a reasonable amount of acreage to support proposed exploration and site characterization activities, taking into consideration site geology, land ownership, and existing or proposed uses on the public lands and adjacent non-public lands. The legal land descriptions must clearly identify the acreage needed for facilities and infrastructure such as roads, wells, and monitoring equipment/storage areas. The entire geologic formation or pore space to be studied and any of the surrounding region determined necessary for safety purposes must also be included in the legal land description. For example, if the total surface disturbance area for a proposed permit is 20 acres, but the geologic formation identified for potential future CO2 storage totals 6,000 acres, the legal land described must equal 6,000 acres.
There are no statutory or regulatory limits on the acreage of an exploration and site characterization permit application submitted pursuant to this policy. However, the BLM may request additional site-screening information from the applicant to determine if the identified permit area is a reasonable size, considering content, safety, and known geologic data contained in the application. As stated above, the surface acreage will conform to the total acreage contained in the larger geologic formation of a permit, which is a function of both the planned injection volumes and the target geologic formation exhibiting potential for full geologic confinement that would safely constrain the vertical and horizontal migration of injected CO2 to a well-defined area. Acreage determinations must be based on available science in accordance with Secretarial Order 3305 (http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/Salazar-Announces-New-Scientific-Integrity-Policy-and-Designation-of-Departmental-Science-Integrity-Officer.cfm). Nontechnical factors including location of CO2 emission sources in relation to planned storage locations, property and pore space ownership, land use, and available infrastructure may also influence the acreage or location of surface facilities. Safety must be the primary consideration when determining if the acreage of a proposed permit area is appropriate. Thus, BLM field offices will not inappropriately limit the surface size of permit areas that may be needed to evaluate the subsurface area for potential GS development. The BLM will document a clear rationale why a reduction in acreage is necessary prior to making a decision that will affect the size of a permit area. Assistance in verifying appropriateness of permit area acreage may be requested as described in the technical assistance section below.
To adequately assess the geologic suitability potential of a permit area, the applicant may not necessarily need to place facilities, drill injection or exploration wells on the involved public lands. In some cases, an applicant may propose to conduct CO2 GS exploration and site characterization studies on adjacent non-public land with limited studies or disturbance to public land. In cases where a permit is issued for an area and no facilities or wells are proposed on public lands, the diligent site characterization section of this IM will apply, including submission of data to the BLM from studies on non-Federal land.
If all exploration and site characterization activities can be accomplished on adjacent non-public land, a permit is not required. In that instance the authorized officer must coordinate with the appropriate permitting authority(ies) to ensure the BLM administered resources are adequately protected.
Technical and Financial Capability: As provided by the permit regulations (43 CFR 2920.5-2(b)(3)), BLM will require applicants to provide information on the availability of sufficient financial capital to execute all aspects of the proposed permit from application processing, environmental review, operation, and maintenance to termination of operations and reclamation of the public lands. If applicants are in bankruptcy or having other financial difficulties and are not able to meet the diligent site characterization provisions of this policy or the regulations at 43 CFR 2920.2-4, the application will be denied. The attached POD Outline (Attachment 1) provides the minimum information required in the POD, including submittal of information on the financial and technical capability of the applicant.
Environmental Review: All permit applications for CO2 GS exploration and site characterization studies will be subject to the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which requires an analysis of the direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of the proposal and any related facilities (BLM NEPA Handbook, H-1790-1). Environmental analyses for CO2 GS exploration and site characterization permits, including reasonably foreseeable development of other proposed facilities in the permit area, should focus on those short-term activities identified in the permit application and BLM must analyze only those future CO2 GS development scenarios that are reasonably foreseeable. An evaluation of a permit application is subject to all applicable laws such as the Endangered Species Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act.
The NEPA analysis need not evaluate CO2 GS development projects as connected actions under the Council on Environmental Quality regulations at 40 CFR 1508.25(a)(1) and the BLM NEPA Handbook, H-1790-1, Section 188.8.131.52, because an exploration and site characterization permit does not authorize a CO2 GS development project. A CO2 GS exploration and site characterization permit conveys no possessory interest (43 CFR 2920.1-1(b)). A permittee has no established right to future CO2 GS development. The BLM must evaluate all future proposed CO2 GS development as a separate proposal/application and POD. However, the NEPA analysis must analyze as a connected action any related facilities proposed on public land outside of the permit area (see acreage section above), such as powerlines.
Authorizations: A FLPMA permit (Form 2920-1, page 2) consistent with the provisions in 43 CFR 2920.1-1(b) will be used to authorize proposed CO2 GS exploration and site characterization studies on public lands. Permits have a limited term of 3 years and may be renewed one time, for a maximum term of 6 years. Due to the nature of site characterization studies which likely involve test injections of a variety of substances as well as the need for careful scientific evaluation of subsurface geologic formations which are not impaired or altered by competing uses, it is not in the public interest to allow competing permittees to test within the same permit area. The BLM does retain the right to authorize other compatible uses of the public lands within the permit area in accordance with 43 CFR 2920.7(a); however, no additional competing CO2 GS exploration and site characterization permits will be authorized within the permit area during the term of the permit.
Regulations at 43 CFR 2920.7(b) require compliance with air and water quality standards established pursuant to applicable Federal or state law and state standards for public health and safety, environmental protection, siting, construction, operation, and maintenance if those standards are more stringent than applicable Federal standards. Exploration and site characterization permits will result in some sites being found unsuitable for future CO2 GS projects. Any related linear utilities proposed on public land outside the permit area, such as pipelines or powerlines, will require separate applications and if approved will be authorized by separate right-of-way grants using existing procedures in 43 CFR 2800 and 43 CFR 2880. Legal access will be considered ancillary to the primary permit and authorized as part of the permit. All activities associated with CO2 GS exploration and site characterization studies on public land, no matter the type of authorization(s), will be subject to land use plan conformance determinations and appropriate NEPA compliance.
Permit Administration: Each permit must contain appropriate best management practices (BMP) as conditions of approval, and any additional site-specific stipulations identified through NEPA analysis to avoid and/or minimize potential environmental impacts. These include, but are not limited to, sediment and erosion control, road construction and maintenance techniques, drainage control, vegetation removal, invasive species control, and rehabilitation including recontouring and reseeding.
The publication Surface Operating Standards and Guidelines for Oil and Gas Exploration and Development, The Gold Book, Fourth Edition – Revised 2007 is a useful reference guide for conducting environmentally responsible field operations on public lands similar to the field operations that would be necessary for CO2 exploration and site characterization permits (http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/energy/oil_and_gas/best_management_practices/gold_book.html).
Terms and Conditions: The diligent site characterization requirements identified in Attachment 2 must be included in all CO2 GS exploration and site characterization permits. Failure of the permittees to comply with the diligent site characterization provisions or permit terms and conditions is justification for the BLM authorized officer to terminate the authorization as specified in the regulations at 43 CFR 2920.9-3.
Performance and Reclamation Bond: A performance and reclamation bond will be required for all CO2 GS exploration and site characterization permits to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of the permit as provided by the regulations at 43 CFR 2920.7(g). Attachment 3 provides a description of acceptable bond instruments, requirements, review, and amounts. A reclamation plan will be required as a component of the POD submitted with the permit application along with a Reclamation Cost Estimate (RCE). The approved reclamation plan and RCE will be used as the basis for determining the standard for reclamation, revegetation, restoration, and soil stabilization of the permit area and, ultimately, in determining the full bond amount. The requirements for a reclamation plan and RCE are further described in Attachment 3. Assistance in reviewing RCEs for CO2 GS exploration and site characterization permits and determining performance and reclamation bond amounts may be requested as described in the technical assistance section below.
Rental: The permittee must pay rent annually, in advance, on a calendar-year basis consistent with the regulations at 43 CFR 2920.8. The permittee has the option of paying the rental for the entire term of the permit in advance. The rental fee for a CO2 GS exploration and site characterization permit will be based on the total public land acreage included in the permit as determined by the Department of the Interior, Office of Valuation Services, or through competitive bidding, at not less than the appraised fair market value, as approved by the BLM authorized officer. There is no additional charge for surface drill sites, placement of instrumentation facilities or injection of substances within the permit area.
Renewal: Permits may be renewed following the procedures in 43 CFR 2920.7(i) for a term not to exceed 3 years, only if a request for renewal is filed 120 days prior to the end of the initial permit term and the permittee provides a reasonable explanation as to why additional time is needed. The BLM authorized officer will consider the geologic, financial, and environmental data provided by the permittee and the performance of the permittee during the initial permit period when determining if the renewal should be authorized and for what term. Under no circumstances will an exploration and site characterization permit renewal extend beyond a total of 6 years from the date of the initial permit. If unforeseen circumstances arise and the permittee requests a renewal beyond 6 years, the permittee must reapply for a new permit to continue data collection. If the permit expires prior to a new application being received, the BLM authorized officer may determine if a competitive interest exists and require competitive bidding (see competitive interest section). If the prior permittee is not the successful bidder, all right, title and interest in the facilities must be transferred to the successful bidder or removed in accordance with the POD and/or terms and conditions of the permit. The bond will be used for removal and reclamation, to the extent necessary, in accordance with 43 CFR 2920.7(g). The maximum 6-year time period also applies in instances where a permit is transferred to another party.
Transfers: Permits may be transferred in whole or in part to other parties consistent with the provisions of the regulations, 43 CFR 2920.7(j). All transfers must be approved by the BLM authorized officer and the qualifications of all transferees must comply with the diligent site characterization section of this IM and the requirements of the regulations at 43 CFR 2920.
Diligent Site Characterization: There is potential for land speculators to apply for or obtain permits and thereby control valuable pore space that could preclude other applicants with serious interests from conducting CO2 GS exploration and site characterization studies on public lands. This situation can be addressed by strictly enforcing the applicant qualification requirements of the 43 CFR 2920.5-2 regulations and requiring certain diligent site characterization provisions in the permit. In addition, to prevent filing of permit applications on public lands that do not exhibit potential for complete geologic confinement, applicants will be required to provide initial site-screening information that supports potential geologic suitability as part of the POD documentation. Assistance in determining a permit applicant’s ability to meet diligent site characterization requirements may be requested as described in the technical assistance section below.
Time Restrictions: Permittees are required to initiate exploration and site characterization activities within 1 year of authorization and complete site characterization within 3 years. The permittee must provide the BLM authorized officer with good cause for any delays, an action plan identifying how the permittee will resolve delays, and complete site characterization activities within a revised timeframe approved by the BLM authorized officer. The goal is to provide permittees sufficient time to complete the necessary studies required to develop a reasonable assurance that a geologic formation exhibits full geologic confinement, estimation of storage capacity, and is conducive to long-term CO2 sequestration.
Data Submission: Permittees must provide geologic and other data obtained for permit areas authorized on public land to the BLM authorized officer annually at a minimum to substantiate ongoing activities. Digital photos along with a descriptive statement must be provided to the BLM authorized officer semi-annually to document the official case file and show progress on proposed facilities, such as installation of roads and drainage structures, well drilling status, and results of ongoing tests (see Attachment 2). These requirements are intended to preclude land speculators from obtaining a permit for lands that potentially contain valuable CO2 GS capacity, with no intention of fully characterizing the site or potentially developing the site for future CO2 GS.
The geologic data collected by the permittee may be proprietary information protected under FOIA (5 U.S.C. § 552) to the extent allowed by Federal law. Information clearly marked by the permittee as “confidential” or “proprietary” will be kept confidential in accordance with the procedures in the BLM Manual 1278 to the extent allowed by law. Other environmental information provided to the BLM such as biological studies, surface hydrology, and cultural resource studies and other related data collected by the permittee will become public information to the extent allowed by Federal law.
Technical Assistance: Technical assistance with the various processing and administration stages of a CO2 GS exploration and site characterization permit may be obtained from the EPA or Department of Energy (DOE), and may be requested through the Chief, Branch of Rights-of-Way (WO-350). Technical assistance is available in verifying appropriate acreages, reviewing RCEs, recommending performance and reclamation bond amounts, determining applicant’s ability to meet diligent site characterization requirements, reviewing reclamation plans, and any other phase of the processing and administration of a permit for CO2 GS exploration and site.
LR2000 Data Entry: Existing LR2000 data standards applicable to 43 CFR 2920 land use authorizations will be used for CO2 GS exploration and site characterization permits. However, two new case types have been established to identify CO2 GS related authorizations and to track these uses within LR2000 as follows: 292011 PERMIT-CO2 SEQ PROJ TEST will be used for CO2 GS exploration and site characterization applications/permits and 292021 LEASE-CO2 SEQ DEV FAC will be used for CO2 GS development applications/leases. A new commodity code, 978 CO2 GEOLOGIC SEQ, will be used for both 292011 permit and 292021 lease case types. Serial register pages for CO2 GS permits or leases must cross-reference and include case file serial numbers for any related linear authorizations using action code 501 and entering in action remarks the type of number from Data Element 2537, a hyphen, the case file serial number, and end with a semicolon (i.e., “SN-AZA123456;”or “SN-NMNM127654;”).
Timeframe: This IM is effective immediately. Pending applications for CO2 GS exploration and site characterization activities will be addressed consistent with the provisions of this IM.
Budget Impact: The application of this policy will have minimal impacts on budget. Exploration and site characterization permit applications are subject to the cost reimbursement
provisions of the regulations at 43 CFR 2920.6. In addition, the BLM permit monitoring activities are also subject to these cost recovery provisions of the regulations.
Background: Climate change legislation was previously introduced in Congress to establish a cap-and-trade system in order to restrict greenhouse gas emissions, especially CO2. Enactment would encourage widespread adoption of CO2 capture and sequestration technology. The BLM has been informed of private sector interest in potential commercial-scale CO2 GS projects on public lands. The DOE has estimated that about 5.5 percent of the Nation’s sequestration capacity exists on public lands. These lands often contain large contiguous blocks of acreage in
the West, offering the advantage of single ownership, that in turn simplify the aggregation of storage rights for CO2 sequestration.
Section 714 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 required the Secretary of the Interior to submit to Congress a report on a recommended framework for managing CO2 GS activities on public land. This report included recommended criteria for identifying candidate sites, a proposed regulatory framework for leasing sequestration sites, and a discussion of public participation, environmental protection, liability, split estate, and land use authorization issues. The report was delivered to Congress on June 3, 2009 (http://www.doi. gov/news/09_News_ Releases/EISA_Sec._714_Report_to_Congress_V12_Final.pdf). The policy as set forth in this IM is consistent with the recommendations in that report and provides the mechanism to authorize CO2 GS exploration and site characterization studies on public lands.
Exploration and site characterization studies are needed to obtain information as required by the previously cited EPA regulations (see the Policy/Action section). These EPA regulations define a new class of injection well (Class VI) under the existing Underground Injection Control regulatory framework, finalize new minimum Federal requirements under the Safe Drinking Water Act for underground injection of CO2 for the purpose of GS, and apply to all Class VI exploration and site characterization activities authorized on public lands. As defined by the EPA regulations, GS is “[T] the long-term containment of a gaseous, liquid or supercritical carbon dioxide stream in subsurface geologic formations. This term does not apply to carbon dioxide capture or transport.”
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: This IM transmits interim policy that amends and will be incorporated into BLM Manual 2920, Leases, Permits and Easements, during the next revision.
Coordination: This IM was reviewed by and comments received from the BLM Lands and Realty and Fluid Minerals Leads and the Washington Office Renewable Resources Management and Minerals and Realty Management directorate.
Contact: If you have any questions or concerns, please call me at 202-208-4201, or your staff may contact Lucas Lucero, Chief, Branch of Rights-of-Way, at 202-912-7342.
Signed by: Authenticated by:
Timothy Spisak Robert M. Williams
Acting, Assistant Director Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Minerals and Realty Management