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Task force says it’s time to lay the legal groundwork

Colorado’s pathway to deep, deep economy wide decarbonization may require the state to go underground, a task force has concluded.

In a report completed in January, the Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage Task Force calls for state actions that will enable fossil fuels to be burned without polluting the atmosphere.

“It is important that CCUS be both enabled and appropriately regulated to ensure long-term storage of carbon dioxide and be deployed in ways that address equity and community concerns,” the report says.

This could potentially yield “firm zero-carbon electricity generation to complement a primarily renewable grid, industrial decarbonization, and the potential use of direct air capture,” the report adds.

The report recommends state legislators:

  • Enable the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Committee to seek authority from the U.S. Environmental Protection agency for state regulation of Class 6 C02 injection wells.
  • Clarify the property rights for CO2 storage;
  • Address state authority of siting for CO2 pipelines; and
  • Create a process for long-term stewardship of C02 sites.
  • Clarify pore space ownership, and in determining the extent of pore space rights, consider whether pore space in saline aquifers should be a public good.

The report also finds that incentives may be necessary to push along the technology for use in hard-to-decarbonize sectors.

“As Colorado looks to decarbonize across all sectors of the state’s economy, the focus of incentives for adoption or implementation of CCUS should be in sectors that may be hard to decarbonize without it.”

Go here to see the full report recommendations.

The task force consisted of 7 individuals from state agencies, 6 from businesses and trade groups, 3 from environmental organizations, 2 from labor, 2 from electrical utilities, plus an expert from the Colorado School of Mines and a representative of the EPA.

Members of the task force found three key areas where CCUS may play a role going forward:


Emission-free electricity

The task force sees a potential role for carbon capture in helping utilities completely reduce emission from electrical generation. Colorado utilities have clear ideas about how to achieve 80 to 85 % penetration of renewables, and some thinking that they can get north of 90%. But all agree that the solutions to complete decarbonization aren’t completely clear.

“This role of helping to complement a primarily renewable electricity system, as part of that last 10% to 15% of generation, is the potential role we see for CCUS in the electricity system.”



Industrial emissions, primarily from cement plants and steel mills, rank fifth as a source of greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado. Multiple technologies may play a role in meeting the need to reduce emissions; carbon capture could be one.


Direct air capture

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has identified this still new technology as important for mitigating atmospheric pollution.

Allen Best
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