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Legislature passes bill to store CO2, other gases underground

Manufacturers will be able to store greenhouse emissions underground, according to legislation passed by the state Senate and House.

The geological storage bill will allow manufacturers to store carbon dioxide emissions in “pore space” where oil and natural gas have been pumped out of the ground.

The House version was sponsored by State Rep. Alan Baker (R-Brewton) and Sen. Greg Albritton carried the bill in the Senate. After approval from both Houses, the legislation awaits Gov. Kay Ivey’s signature.

Albritton (R-Atmore) told Yellowhammer News the legislation is necessary because of federal requirements for manufacturers and power companies to reduce their emissions to stay in business.

“A lot the fear is that they will not be stay in business unless they capture the CO2,” he said. “And then you have the problem of what do you do with it. 

“If we don’t do this, we will have to build large underground tanks to store it.”

He said the property owners will be paid for the storage in a manner similar to royalties paid by oil and gas companies.

Under Alabama law, the landowner owns the surface rights of their property. However, in many cases, the mineral rights were sold decades or even generations ago and may not belong to the current property owner. 

“The owner of the surface rights (the property owner) under this bill will be the one who is paid for use of the storage space under his property,” Albritton said.

“This is a great bill, this is a great process in which we have set up to store this,” said State Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham). “This was just great how it connects with our companies that have the stacks where that have got to capture that and then where it goes from there. Y’all may not have the things we have in our area where we gotta worry about EPA and the environment that we have to have these things captured so that we can grow in this part of the state.

“Some of y’all are on mountains and some of y’all are on flat areas. We are in a valley. Most of Jefferson County is in a valley and when these emissions come down it stays there. This along with car emissions and other things puts us at a disadvantage. This will help the state. I want to make sure that I stress that to everyone about that particular bill.”

The bill defines the term “pore space” and provides that property owners have the right to the pore space below their property. 

The commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is authorized to lease pore space to store carbon dioxide.

The legislation also creates the Underground Carbon Dioxide Storage Facility Administrative Fund and the Underground Carbon Dioxide Storage Facility Trust Fund. 

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