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US agency proposes allowing carbon capture projects in national forests

(Reuters) –     The U.S. Forest Service wants to allow carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects on national forest land, according to a proposed rule published by the agency on Friday.

Carbon capture is key to the climate strategy of the administration of President Joe Biden, which has pledged to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

The proposed rule would amend existing Forest Service regulations by allowing “exclusive and perpetual use” of national forest land and pore space beneath it for approved CCS projects.

Authorizing such projects on forest land would support the administration’s climate goals, said the proposed rule. 

Some environmental groups opposed the rule, arguing it would amount to the privatization of public land.

“Our nation’s forests should not be a dumping ground for polluters,” said Jim Walsh, policy director of the environmental group Food & Water Watch.

Some CCS projects in the U.S. are facing obstacles securing access to geological storage sites where captured carbon dioxide could be sequestered for hundreds of years. 

Regulators in North Dakota in August denied a permit application from Iowa-based Summit Carbon Solutions, which hopes to store as much as 18 million metric tons of carbon dioxide there as part of its multi-state CCS pipeline, due to concerns about the project’s impact to residents and the environment. The state is reconsidering Summit’s application.

A CCS pipeline project from Nebraska-based Navigator CO2 Ventures struggled to get support from landowners living above its proposed sequestration site in Illinois before canceling the project in October.

 (Reporting by Leah Douglas; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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