The state of North Dakota wants to become the first in the nation to be able to regulate the capture and use of carbon dioxide from energy production.
The federal EPA has given the state preliminary approval to do that. And now state mineral resources director Lynn Helms says he will be working to make that approval permanent. Helms told the state Industrial Commission there is a lot of potential for the use of CO2 for enhanced oil recovery.
"We have a number of oil fields that are ripe for enhanced oil recovery," said Helms. "Cedar Hills (near Bowman) is one of them, the Lodgepole Mounds, and of course, the Energy and Environmental Research center is working with a group on the Bakken and Three Forks for CO2 potential."
Helms says North Dakota may have the best CO2 storage reservoir in the world.
"It underlies about two-thirds of the state," Helms told the Commission. "It's currently not being used for anything. It contains saline water, and it's a beautiful, thick sandstone. It has great potential for storing CO2, using that CO2 for enhanced oil recovery. All of those pieces work here."
Now, the Department of Mineral Resources wants to apply to the EPA for designation for “Class Six” primacy – which will keep that regulation in state hands. Helms says that allows the state to write its own rules without the threat that EPA would take over that regulation.
"We don't believe anyone is going to invest in serious CO2 recovery projects under the threat that at any time, it could be decided by EPA headquarters that it's no longer enhanced oil recovery, but CO2 storage, and we now regulate it, and you have to meet all these new rules," said Helms.