CO2 pipeline build-out generates bipartisan House interest

Lawmakers found some agreement during a House hearing on the operation and safety of carbon dioxide pipelines.

March 09, 2023

Lawmakers on a House panel found some consensus Wednesday on the operation and safety of carbon dioxide pipelines, as Congress seeks to reauthorize the agency responsible for the nation's pipeline network.

The bipartisan interest at a Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee hearing comes as backers of carbon capture argue that CO2 pipeline infrastructure may need to grow as much as five times its existing footprint in order to meet the needs to more fully deploy the technology and move captured carbon to markets.


Carbon dioxide pipeline rules have come under scrutiny during the Biden administration.

PHMSA launched the process to revamp CO2 regulations last year as part of the agency’s broader response to the pipeline accident in Satartia, Miss., in 2020 that caused a 40-foot crater and the release of a cloud of carbon dioxide across the town (Energywire, May 27, 2022).

The bipartisan infrastructure law contains billions in funding for carbon capture demonstration and pilot projects, but the rupture has prompted some unease in the further build-out of carbon dioxide pipelines, especially in the Midwest (Energywire, March 3).

As part of that revamp, PHMSA said it would seek to require more timely notification requirements to nearby communities when accidents occur.

“I think we should put rules in place … that are foolproof,” PHMSA Deputy Administrator Tristan Brown told lawmakers. “We are planning to promulgate a draft rule in the coming months.”

Movement of hydrogen through pipelines also attracted lawmaker attention as a growing number of members look to the potential of hydrogen to help decarbonize the economy.

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) questioned whether differences between hydrogen and natural gas could prove problematic for the expectation of reusing existing energy infrastructure to move hydrogen. A recent study from the California Public Utility Commission raised questions about the viability.

“There are some really large knowledge gaps that both PHMSA and the industry through research organizations are attempting to fill, but we are years away from answering those questions,” said Bill Caram, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust.

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By:  Jeremy Dillon
Source: E&E Daily