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Carbon sequestration: Bubbly water for everyone!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

bubbly waterSo, how do you feel about bubbly water?

EPA has issued an initial rule on carbon sequestration -- that's where coal plants and other major carbon dioxide sources pump the gas into the ground, where (hopefully) it stays and doesn't contribute to climate change. Because the sequestered gas could potentially leak into drinking water sources, the proposed rule would add specific rules for carbon dioxide burial to the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act.

The Associated Press said the rule "creates extensive siting, testing and monitoring requirements to prevent leaks." That sounds promising, doesn't it?

I sure hope their assessment is correct. If they're wrong, and EPA doesn't hold companies to strict regulations, the result could be a lot worse than bubbly tap water. If it leaks into drinking water, too much carbon dioxide can make the water acidic. Acidic water can leach heavy metals from rock, and I'm guessing you probably don't want to be drinking lead-water. Also, sequestration would have to be done well and carefully to ensure that carbon dioxide didn't leak out of the ground and back into the atmosphere.

Obviously the best plan is to stop producing so much carbon dioxide, but it looks like carbon sequestration is going to happen. There won't be a final rule for another two or three years, though, so we'll be keeping an eye on the technology and the regulations to see if it can be done safely.

Photo by Philosophy Geek.