BLM issues geologic carbon storage policy for public lands


Bureau of Land Management

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As part of a comprehensive strategy to combat climate change and reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, the Bureau of Land Management has issued a new policy relating to geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide on public lands.

Geologic carbon sequestration is the process of safely injecting carbon dioxide—the most common greenhouse gas—deep underground, permanently preventing it from entering the atmosphere and contributing to the climate crisis. Carbon dioxide has been injected underground in the United States since the 1940s, but typically as a temporary measure to produce more oil. This is the first time BLM is issuing a policy to allow for the permanent underground storage of carbon dioxide.

“This policy is an important tool to help the BLM combat the climate crisis and supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of reaching net zero emissions economy-wide by no later than 2050,” said BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning.

The new instruction memorandum provides a path for geologic carbon sequestration projects on BLM-managed lands by providing direction for authorizing rights-of-way for site characterization, transportation, injection, capture, and permanent storage of carbon dioxide at appropriately classified injection well locations. A right-of-way grant authorizes rights and privileges for a specific use of the land for a specified period of time appropriate for the life of the project.

The instruction memorandum will help ensure consistent processing of right-of-way applications for carbon sequestration projects across all BLM-managed lands and provide guidance to BLM staff on how to address compliance with other applicable laws, environmental review, the term of the authorizations (a 30-year renewable term), rental payments, cost recovery, and adequate monitoring and long-term stewardship.

Presently there are no approved carbon sequestration projects on BLM-managed lands. The BLM is currently processing two applications, one in Wyoming and one in Montana, and has received inquiries related to other potential projects in several states.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.