‘First of its kind’ underground CO2 storage project approved near Kemmerer

The Kemmerer Field Office (Bureau of Land Management)

GILLETTE, Wyo. — A new carbon storage proposal garnered federal approval Friday, clearing the way for the first underground carbon dioxide storage projects on Bureau of Land Management lands in southwestern Wyoming.

The projects, proposed by ExxonMobil Corporation and approved by BLM on Aug. 26, include constructing a CO2 disposal well pad and pipeline, which will allow for permanent underground storage for carbon waste produced by the ExxonMobil’s Shute Creek Plant near Kemmerer, according to BLM.

Underground carbon sequestration involves injecting carbon waste deep underground, permanently preventing it from entering the atmosphere and contributing to the ongoing climate crises, per BLM.

The well approved for Shute Creek Plant carbon waste will be able to sequester around 60 million cubic feet of CO2 every day into the Madison water formation, which is approximately 18,000 feet below ground level, BLM says, adding that practice is believed to be safe.

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“This project is a prime example of how the BLM can work together with industry leaders to combat climate change,” BLM Wyoming State Director Andrew Archuleta said in a statement. “Projects like this allow the BLM to play a part in reducing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.”

Currently, ExxonMobil sells CO2 for commercial uses and any excess CO2 is vented into the atmosphere under a permit approved by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, per BLM.

According to BLM, CO2 has been injected underground in the United States since the 1940s, though past efforts were temporary measures to produce more oil. This will be the first time BLM has issued a policy allowing for permanent underground CO2 storage.