M-RCBG Associate Working Paper No. 234

CO₂lossal Connections: Examining Policy Incentives for Advancing Carbon Dioxide Pipeline Infrastructure in the United States

Luke Schields

2024 Policy Analysis Exercise Prepared for ClearPath

Executive Summary

In the pursuit of mitigating climate change, the deployment of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) infrastructure stands as a crucial endeavor. Central to this effort is the swift deployment of CO₂ transmission pipelines, serving as the backbone of CCS networks delivering captured CO₂ from its emission source to a sequestration well. However, this objective is impeded by several regulatory, logistical, and social challenges, necessitating a holistic approach to navigate these complexities effectively. 

The primary challenge lies in the fragmented regulatory landscape governing pipeline development. This regulatory uncertainty hampers progress and unnecessarily increases risk resulting in higher development financing. Moreover, local community opposition, fueled by lack of information and awareness and concerns over safety and environmental impact, further complicates the permitting process and delays pipeline development. 

Legislatively, the upcoming PHMSA reauthorization presents an immediate opportunity to positively affect public policy in this area. However, the current political environment and competing interests pose challenges to passing more robust legislation that adequately addresses the complexities of CO₂ pipeline development. 

In light of these constraints, this report’s recommendations are tailored to navigate the intricate landscape of CO₂ pipeline deployment, offering actionable strategies for immediate, moderate-term, and long-term implementation.

Download the paper in PDF format