Yesterday the California Senate’s Committee on Environmental Quality unanimously approved SB 1139(Carbon Capture and Storage Act of 2012), which was introduced by Senator Rubio (D – East Bakersfield) earlier this year.  SB 1139 would advance carbon capture and storage by closing certain key gaps in California law identified in the California Carbon Capture and Storage Review Panel’s final report, which found that “[t]here is a public benefit from long-term geologic storage of CO2 as a strategy for reducing GHG emissions to the atmosphere as required by California laws and policies.”  Specifically, SB 1139 would 

  • Expressly provide that pore space useful for geologic carbon sequestration is part of Civil Code § 659’s definition of “land.”  (According to the analysis prepared for the Senate’s Committee on Environmental Quality, SB 1139’s intent is to provide that the surface estate owner holds title to the pore space, subject to the dominance of the mineral estate.)
  • Give the State Fire Marshal regulatory authority over intrastate carbon dioxide pipelines.  The current version of SB 1139 defines carbon dioxide as “a fluid consisting of more than 90 percent carbon dioxide molecules.”
  • Direct the Air Resources Board to adopt by January 1, 2015 a methodology for quantifying the amount of carbon dioxide geologically sequestered for purposes of AB 32 compliance, including simultaneous geologic sequestration by enhanced oil recovery (EOR) projects that use carbon dioxide.  The methodology would also need to be suitable for demonstrating compliance with SB 1368’s emission performance standard for baseload electric generation and should harmonize with other state, federal, and international greenhouse gas emission reduction programs.
  • Direct the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) to regulate EOR projects that use carbon dioxide, including those projects that simultaneously geologically sequester carbon dioxide, under its Class II Underground Injection Control (UIC) program.

These issues were discussed in the Approaches to Pore Space RightsCarbon Dioxide Pipelines, and Enhanced Oil Recovery as Carbon Dioxide Sequestration white papers Stoel Rives prepared for the California Carbon Capture and Storage Review Panel in 2010. 

SB 1139 now goes to the Senate Rules Committee.  For more information on SB 1139, please contact Mike MillsJerry Fish, or Eric Martin.