The U.S. Forest Service has unveiled a proposed rule that would permit carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects on national forest land, as part of the administration's broader strategy to combat climate change. President Joe Biden's administration has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030, making carbon capture a pivotal element of its climate agenda.
The proposed rule seeks to amend existing Forest Service regulations, allowing for the “exclusive and perpetual use” of national forest land and the subterranean pore space beneath it for approved CCS initiatives. Advocates argue that this move is in line with the administration's climate goals.
However, the proposal has faced opposition from some environmental groups who contend that it could effectively privatize public land. Jim Walsh, the Policy Director of the environmental organization Food & Water Watch, voiced concerns, stating, “Our nation's forests should not be a dumping ground for polluters.”
In the United States, several CCS projects have encountered challenges in securing access to geological storage sites for long-term carbon dioxide sequestration. Notably, regulators in North Dakota denied a permit application from Iowa-based Summit Carbon Solutions in August, which aimed to store up to 18 million metric tons of carbon dioxide as part of a multi-state CCS pipeline. The denial was based on concerns about the project's impact on residents and the environment, although the state is currently reconsidering Summit's application.
Similarly, a CCS pipeline project initiated by Nebraska-based Navigator CO2 Ventures faced difficulty in gaining support from landowners living above its proposed sequestration site in Illinois, ultimately leading to the project's cancellation in October. These challenges underscore the complexities and potential controversies associated with CCS initiatives on public and private lands.