The Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management’s (FECM’s) Acting Assistant Secretary Dr. Jennifer Wilcox joined a panel of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) leaders at the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) Energy Policy Outlook Conference to discuss the implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).

Dr. Wilcox discussed FECM’s work of examining U.S. dependence on fossil fuels across the supply chain, analyzing how those fuels are extracted, and exploring opportunities to mitigate emissions associated with their use. She highlighted that the BIL dedicates funding for carbon capture and storage and carbon dioxide removal, two necessary tools for achieving our net-zero future.

A key theme across all leaders’ remarks was the importance of collaboration—across DOE offices and with the states—to the effective implementation of this legislation. Dr. Wilcox emphasized two crucial ways states can partner with FECM:

  • Community Engagement. The communities where demonstration projects are deployed will need local stakeholder support and advocacy. Given the legacy impacts in communities associated with U.S. dependence on fossil fuels, it will be important to establish transparent and meaningful community engagement to help explain these investments and  align them with community objectives and goals. 

“We need to make sure that we have a solution that scales with emissions, and that’s on the order of gigatons. […] When we look at the projects we have in the United States today for dedicated storage, we have five programs where we can inject CO2 deep underground [through the CarbonSAFE program]. There is really going to be a bottleneck in terms of our carbon capture and storage demonstration projects if we don’t have a place to put the CO2.” 

Dr. Jennifer Wilcox

  • Regulatory Framework. FECM is working collaboratively with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and also needs  states’ expertise and assistance to implement the BIL’s $2.5 billion associated with safe and reliable geological storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) deep underground.

Injecting CO2 underground for long-term storage requires a Class VI permit under the EPA’s Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program. Both EPA and states, that have been granted “primacy” by EPA, can issue UIC permits. Primacy allows states to act as the primary enforcement authority in the regulation and permitting of UIC wells. 

Dr. Wilcox underscored that FECM wants to provide technical assistance to states to develop the expertise needed to ensure carbon storage projects are sited and permitted in a way that protects human health and the environment. She noted that the BIL provides $50 million to EPA to support states in their efforts to establish Class VI permitting programs.

DOE will continue to support EPA, states, and organizations like the Ground Water Protection Council who can all work together to help build capacity in the Class VI permitting program. Having additional technical and regulatory capacity at EPA and the states will support the safe and effective deployment of the BIL provisions as well as the growing commercial carbon storage industry.   

Watch the recording of Dr. Wilcox's remarks.