Today, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) delivered new guidance to Federal agencies to help ensure that the advancement of Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Sequestration (CCUS) technologies is done in a responsible manner that incorporates the input of communities and reflects the best available science. The development of this guidance was mandated by the Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies (USE IT) Act, which was signed into law in December, 2020.

Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Sequestration (CCUS) refers to technologies that remove carbon pollution from the ambient air or from point sources like smokestacks, and permanently store the carbon. In factories, CCUS can reduce emissions from chemical reactions and high-temperature processes that are difficult and expensive to decarbonize. To achieve a net-zero economy, scientific analyses have found that the United States and other countries will need to remove and store carbon pollution that has already been released into the atmosphere.

“With industries moving quickly to adopt and deploy carbon capture technologies, Federal agencies can play a key role in ensuring that projects are done right and in a way that reflects the needs and inputs of local communities,” said CEQ Chair Brenda Mallory. “The guidance issued today provides Federal agencies a framework for helping guide CCUS deployment in a manner that is environmentally sound and that cuts cumulative pollution in nearby communities.”

The Administration recognizes the imperative for CCUS actions to be considered in a timely manner and in the context of a strong regulatory regime that includes early consultation with Tribal Nations and meaningful engagement with communities, stakeholders, and other sovereigns. It further recognizes that CCUS projects can create good-paying, union jobs and training programs. Responsible CCUS deployment will require  effective permitting, efficient regulatory regimes, meaningful public engagement early in the review and deployment process, and measures to safeguard public health and the environment. 

The guidance builds on CEQ’s June 2021 CCUS report and identifies measures to facilitate sound and transparent environmental reviews for CCUS projects. It also encourages agencies to prepare publicly available life cycle analyses of carbon capture and utilization and carbon dioxide removal projects.

The CCUS guidance also underscores the importance of incorporating environmental justice and equity considerations early into the review and deployment of CCUS projects to protect overburdened communities from direct, indirect, and cumulative effects. The guidance reiterates the need to develop robust Tribal consultation and stakeholder engagement plans and to conduct regular engagement. Agencies are further encouraged to prioritize the development and application of environmental justice best practices for CCUS efforts.[1]  Actions that should be taken include:

  • Evaluating the impacts of proposed CCUS actions on potential host communities early in the planning process;
  • Providing information about the effects, costs and benefits of CCUS in advance of Tribal consultation and stakeholder engagement;
  • Consulting Tribal Nations on potential CCUS projects in a manner that strengthens Nation-to-Nation relationships;
  • Avoiding the imposition of additional burdens on overburdened and underserved communities, including by evaluating direct, indirect, and cumulative effects and identifying and implementing appropriate mitigation and avoidance measures; and
  • Providing transparency and accountability to communities with respect to applicable mitigation measures designed to reduce environmental effects.

As agencies prepare to implement more than $12 billion in CCUS investments provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this guidance will promote projects informed by community perspectives and aligned with climate, public health, and economic goals.

Today’s guidance was released as part of a White House announcement on clean manufacturing, which includes announcements on federal procurement of clean materials, innovation to decarbonize and strengthen the US manufacturing sector, clean hydrogen, and trade policy.

Members of the public may submit comments on the guidance at https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-03205 (Docket ID: CEQ-2022-0001) until March 18, 2022.

The full CCUS guidance can be read HERE.

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