Members of Congress Join Push for Increased Appropriations for Class VI Well Permits and State Primacy Applications

March 26, 2020 | Blog

Representatives Marc Veasey (D-TX) and David McKinley (R-WV) wrote to House appropriators on March 20th urging for an increase in funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Underground Injection Control (UIC) program, specifically to bolster resources to support the Class VI Well program. Other members supporting the appropriations effort are Scott Peters (D-CA), Vincente Gonzalez (D-TX), Randy Weber (R-TX), Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) and Conor Lamb (D-PA).*

Carbon capture projects that seek to inject carbon dioxide into deep rock formations for the sole purpose of long-term geologic storage are subject to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Class VI rule, which is part of EPA’s Underground Injection Control Program and was put in place to establish federal minimum technical criteria to protect underground sources of drinking water.

The congressmen noted in their letter, “…it is crucial that Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations for these critically important programs at EPA increase to meet the anticipated influx of Class VI well applications, as well help the growing number of states seeking Class VI primacy administer these programs.”

The timeframes for application and approval of Class VI well permits and state Class VI primacy present a significant constraint on the 45Q tax credit achieving its full deployment potential. This situation risks being exacerbated by limited EPA and state resources to staff and manage Class VI programs. It is estimated that once the U.S. Treasury issues final guidance for 45Q, up to two dozen projects will seek Class VI wells, and current EPA staffing levels for the Class VI program are inadequate to meet the expected increase in well applications in a timely manner. Additionally, it is anticipated that seven states are planning or have already applied for Class VI permits. Without additional resources, this significant increase in Class VI well permits, as well as state primacy applications in response to 45Q, creates the prospect of policy failure with respect to commercial development of saline storage projects.

The Coalition submitted letters to House and Senate appropriators earlier this month, outlining similar requests for increased funding to administer the UIC program:

  1. Request that in FY 2021, the EPA budget receive an increase of at least $4 million above the fiscal year 2020 level, to develop expertise and capacity at agency headquarters, specifically within the UIC program related to Class VI wells for geologic storage.
  2. To begin building the capacity at the state level to support robust Class VI well programs, we request that in FY 2021, the EPA UIC State and Tribal Grant program receive at least $6 million above the fiscal year 2020 level.

Read the full text of the Veasey-McKinley letter here.

*These additional Members of Congress were unable to pen their actual signature to the letter due to the remote work situation related to the coronavirus.