Climate Change, Carbon Sequestration, and Property Rights
Elizabeth J. Wilson
University of Minnesota - Center for Science, Technology and Public Policy, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
Alexandra B. Klass
University of Minnesota Law School
April 1, 2009
University of Illinois Law Review, Vol. 2010, 2010
Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-15
This Article considers the role of property rights in efforts to sequester underground hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year from power plants and other industrial facilities in order to mitigate climate change. This technology, known as carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), could provide deep emission cuts, particularly from coal power generation, on a worldwide basis. In order to implement this technology, future CCS operators must be able to access hundreds of millions of acres of "pore space" roughly a kilometer below the earth's surface in which to store CO2 for hundreds to thousands of years. Here, we explore questions relating to ownership of subsurface pore space, physical takings, regulatory takings, and just compensation that will necessarily accompany the implementation of CCS in the United States. In order to accommodate the full range of property rights and takings issues that will arise with CCS, we propose a regulatory framework based in part on the Natural Gas Act to address these issues in connection with subsurface CO2 storage.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 66
Keywords: climate change, carbon sequestration, carbon storage, geologic carbon sequestration, property rights, fifth amendment, takings, physical takings, regulatory takings, natural gas act, underground waste injection, secondary oil and gas recovery
JEL Classification: K11, K13, K32, K41, Q2, Q3, Q4Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: April 2, 2009 ; Last revised: March 23, 2010
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