The EPA held a “Public Workshop to Discuss Management of Underground Injection of Carbon Dioxide for Geologic Sequestration Under the Safe Drinking Water Act” last week. I’ve talked about this issue before here. This process continues to not get the attention it deserves as it may drastically effect drinking water quality. The workshop is a decent look at part of the ‘sausage making’ process so here are some random thoughts (the quotes aren’t quotes, they’re paraphrased but I blockquoted them for clarity).
We can regulate the injection but can’t use the Safe Drinking Water Act to regulate indirect risks to drinking water.
Isn’t it nice when they just come out and tell you they can’t protect drinking water? I find this refreshing. And yes, I RO the drinking water in my house.
Maybe the states can do it!
Punting when you’re down by 40 rarely saves the game.
Dude for BP:
Very pure CO2 is needed for injection. CO2 is ~15% out of the stack so it will take a lot of energy to purify it.
So we need to produce more energy to clean up the energy we are producing. How’s the view from down the rabbit hole? Also, does this remind anyone else of using ethanol for fuel?
CO2 wont necessarily contaminate ground water.
Well, I feel better.
Panelist (I think AWWA):
We may need even currently non-potable water in the future (I think he was refering to salty water in the west) and we should be careful about putting CO2 near any areas that might be used in the future.
Didn’t you hear the EPA? We can’t protect water! It’s not like it’s a precious resource or anything. Kudos.
Panelists (now using brains):
Speaking of salty water, wont the high pressure injections make salt leach into current water sources making them non-potable?
Other panelists (not using brains; or using them for evil):
You don’t know that. Maybe good things, like better water, will be leached in.
Yeah, that’s the way it always works. Someone injects some crap into your ground water and you’ve got better water and less cancer. It’s like that hcivokcorB nirE movie.
Everybody (all together now!):
We need more research.
Some other panelist:
Mitigation is actually pretty easy. Just decrease the pressure.
Hey, that’s actually some good news. Does it make me too cynical to admit that I don’t really believe it can be that easy?
It seems that some drinking water will be contaminated no matter what.
Um, what about earthquakes
Who takes care of a mess once the injection is done?
I’m going to stop here but to give you an overall sense for what these things are like: Everybody seems to think that there are a lot of reasons for not allowing this to go forward, but the very fact that there is a process almost assuredly means it’s going forward in some manner. It’s like an avalanche, it’s quite possible you could divert it the smallest bit by massive amounts of work, but it’s going to the bottom of the hill whether you like it or not. A couple of times people mentioned that someone should weigh the risks of injected CO2 to the risks of keeping it in the air. Although no friend to global warming, it seems pretty stupid to inject it. But it sounds cool, so let’s just go with the flow.