Environmental Law and Policy Clinic Hosts Workshop on Carbon Capture and Sequestration

The Environmental Law and Policy Clinic (ELPC) hosted an important workshop on March 30th in conjunction with the Harvard University Center on the Environment (HUC). The workshop was led by Clinical Professor Wendy Jacobs, Director of the ELPC and brought together over thirty leaders from academia, government, and business sector to focus on the legal and financial obstacles the deployment of Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) technology. Participants included representatives from the World Resources Institute, federal regulatory agencies, Environmental Defense, Zurich Financial, Bank of America, Duke Energy, CONSOL Energy and New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Michigan, and Washington state government.

The focus on legal and financial obstacles is unique among meetings of CCS experts. Although several other events have focused on the technical aspects and climate change impacts of the technology, few had thoroughly addressed legal liability for CCS related harms and the proper financial mechanisms to handle that liability. The workshop was also unique in that it simultaneously tackled short-term incentives for deployment and long-term regulatory questions. Workshop participants were eager to share different approaches—ranging from tax credits to the availability of public lands—being employed at the federal and state levels to promote the technology. Participants representing various state governments also discussed specific legislation within their states to safely manage the development of the industry, including legislation restructuring subsurface rights and ownership of injected material.

The participants were aided in their discussion by a Roadmap and White Paper produced by students of the ELPC (Leah Cohen, Sunjung Kim, Lara Kostakidis-Lianos and Sarah Rundell) along with Director, Wendy Jacobs. The Roadmap argued for the use of incentives to spur immediate large-scale development and also support a comprehensive, long-term framework for regulation of the technology. The Roadmap also calls for the balancing of CCS development with other environmental goals including environmental justice and the preservation of natural resources. The Roadmap is a result of work by clinic students over the past two semesters to identify CCS obstacles, analyze proposed legal frameworks for CCS, and develop comprehensive legislation for encouraging and regulating the technology.

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