On January 19, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of $50 million in grant funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help states, Tribes and territories develop and implement Underground Injection Control (UIC) Class VI programs. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, Class VI programs ensure that groundwater resources are protected while supporting geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change.
EPA supports efforts by states, Tribes, and territories to implement existing primacy programs and seek primary enforcement and permitting responsibility (primacy) for Class VI programs. EPA is inviting states, Tribes and territories to submit letters of intent to indicate their interest in this new funding, and interested parties have until March 20, 2023 to submit their letters. After receiving submissions, EPA will determine funding allocations and award the full $50 million in a one-time distribution.
As a condition of receiving funding, applicants to the new Class VI UIC grant program must demonstrate how environmental justice and equity considerations will be incorporated into their Class VI UIC primacy programs. Primacy program commitments may include identifying communities with potential environmental justice concerns, enhancing public involvement, appropriately scoped environmental justice assessments, enhancing transparency throughout the permitting process and minimizing adverse effects associated with permitting actions.
The geologic sequestration of CO2 in UIC Class VI wells is used in carbon capture and storage to prevent CO2 emissions from industrial sources from reaching the atmosphere. The CO2 is injected through specially constructed wells that extend into deep rock formations. These formations must be tested and selected based on geologic characteristics suitable for the safe containment of CO2 for long-term storage. This technology will provide well-paying jobs and promote environmentally responsible industry.
EPA has, under the Safe Drinking Water Act, developed stringent federal requirements for injecting CO2 that protect public health by ensuring injection wells do not contaminate underground sources of drinking water (USDWs). These UIC regulations mandate using a variety of measures to assure that injection activities will not endanger USDWs.