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Illinois Passes Comprehensive Law Governing Carbon Capture, Utilization and Sequestration Projects in Illinois

On May 26, the Illinois legislature passed comprehensive carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS) legislation. CCUS involves the capture of carbon dioxide directly from ambient air or uses processes to separate carbon dioxide from industrial or energy-related sources, either for use or for underground injection for long-term storage.

The Safety and Aid for the Environment in Carbon Capture and Sequestration Act (SAFE CCS Act), establishes, among other requirements, protections for pore space owners, additional requirements for CO2 pipeline development, and a permitting program for sequestration projects. CCUS projects not grandfathered from the SAFE CCS ACT will now need to adhere to Illinois state sequestration requirements in addition to existing federal regulations.

Pore Space

First, the SAFE CCS Act sets forth requirements and procedures to obtain “pore space” for sequestration. “Pore space” is defined in the Act as the “portion of the geologic media … that can be used to store carbon dioxide.” Illinois has an abundance of geologic media appropriate for sequestration, according to the Illinois State Geologic Survey, and the areas are generally far underground (from 2000 to 7000 ft below ground surface). The SAFE CCS Act specifies that title to pore space remains in the surface owner, but pore space can be leased or subject to an easement. The owner or operator of a sequestration facility must obtain pore space rights from at least 75% of the landowners that may be affected and can petition the US Department of Natural Resources for “unitization” if “holdouts” occur. Certain documents must be provided to the Department and no “pore space” can be used until a federal Class VI well permit has been issued by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

CO2 Pipelines

Second, the SAFE CCS Act amends Illinois’ existing Carbon Dioxide Transportation and Sequestration Act (CO2 Act), including the requirements for an owner or operator of a CO2 pipeline to receive a “certificate of authority” from the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) to construct and operate a CO2 pipeline. The Act further requires that the ICC verify compliance with applicable Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) safety rules. The SAFE CCS ACT purports to prohibit the ICC from issuing any certificates of authority for new CO2 pipelines until the earlier of July 2026, or PHMSA’s completion of a current rulemaking process to update its CO2 pipeline safety standards. The Safe CCS Act does clarify the intention that (1) an operator receiving a certificate of authority under the CO2 Act does not have to also obtain a certificate from the ICC as a common carrier by pipeline under the Illinois Common Carrier by Pipeline Law (220 ILCS 5/15-101 et seq.); and (2) grants of certificates of authority under the CO2 Act are not limited only to pipelines transporting carbon dioxide captured from sources using coal.

Emergency Response

Third, the SAFE CCS Act requires detailed emergency response planning for CCS projects. The ACT assigns emergency response authority to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, providing a number of responsibilities and resources to the Agency to enhance training, oversight, and enforcement capability pertaining to emergency response for CCS facilities.

Sequestration Permit Program

Fourth, the SAFE CCS Act requires sequestration facility operators to obtain a permit from the Illinois EPA prior to constructing any portion of the sequestration project. This permit is in addition to, and goes beyond the requirements of, the existing requirement to obtain a federal Class VI injection well permit from US EPA. The permitting regime under the SAFE CCS Act requires various evaluations and reports, including an evaluation of the impact on water resources used by the sequestration facility. The Illinois environmental permit will cover long-term reporting, monitoring, and financial assurance mechanisms.

Liability

Finally, the SAFE CCS Act includes provisions on the assignment of liability associated with the sequestration, storage, and management of CO2. Specifically, the SAFE CCS Act specifies that the operator of the sequestration facility, not the state, is responsible for any personal or property damage caused by the sequestration. It clarifies that the sequestered gas remains the property of the operator of the sequestration, not the owner of the pore space.

The Act also requires a variety of fees and the creation of various funds to support the administration, emergency preparedness, and environmental justice initiatives across the state. It also appears to prohibit the use of captured carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery processes.

Governor J.B. Pritzker has indicated he will sign the legislation when it reaches his desk. If enacted, it is expected that the Illinois EPA, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and the ICC will promulgate rules to assist with implementing the Act.

© 2024 ArentFox Schiff LLP
by: David M. Loring , Jane E. Montgomery, Bina Joshi of ArentFox Schiff LLP
For more news on Illinois’s New Carbon Capture Law, visit the NLR Environmental, Energy & Resources section.

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