On September 29, 2023 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) released a tracking tool on its website that shows the progress of submitted applications to geologically sequester carbon pursuant to a Class VI Underground Injection Control (“UIC”) permit. EPA has received a significant increase in the number of pending Class VI applications over the past year, due in large part to the August 2022 passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. While EPA has only ever issued two Class VI permits—in Region 5, for the Archer Daniels Midland facility in Macon County, Illinois—EPA Region 5 recently released two draft Class VI permits, in July 2023, for Wabash Carbon Services in Vigo County, Indiana. EPA’s tracker projects that EPA will issue final Class VI permits to Wabash Carbon Services by mid-January 2024.
The EPA tracking tool contains a variety of information regarding Class VI application processing, including the number of Notices of Deficiency and Requests for Additional Information sent to applicants, and the applicants’ response time to each. EPA has expressed its intent to update this tracker periodically.
While useful, the EPA’s tracking chart does not reflect the timing consequences of primary enforcement authority (“primacy”) for the Class VI program transferring from EPA to state agencies. Currently, only North Dakota and Wyoming hold Class VI UIC primacy and are able to issue their own Class VI permits. In May 2023, the EPA recommended approving Louisiana’s application for Class VI primacy. The public comment period on EPA’s proposed approval closed on September 15, 2023. EPA is anticipated to grant Louisiana’s application for Class VI primacy soon. Texas applied to EPA for Class VI primacy in December 2022. Its application will be considered following Louisiana’s. West Virginia and Arizona are also in the pre-application phase of seeking primacy. As states are granted Class VI primacy and agencies gain experience issuing permits, the timeline for processing and issuance of Class VI permits is expected to decrease. For instance, North Dakota recently received, processed, and issued a Class VI permit in just over four months. By contrast, the fastest timeframe EPA projects, from application submittal to Class VI permit issuance, is roughly two years.
A copy of the EPA’s tracking chart dated September 29, 2023, can be found here.
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