Carbon America has submitted a Class VI CO2 Injection Well permit application to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Region 8 office to permanently store carbon dioxide produced by two ethanol plants in northeastern Colorado. The application was submitted on December 4th, 2023, made it through the completeness determination on January 7th, 2024, and is now in the technical review phase.
“We are thrilled to take this significant step toward advancing our mission to quickly and safely capture and store as much carbon dioxide as possible,” said Brent Lewis, CEO at Carbon America. “This Class VI CO2 Injection Well permit submission marks a crucial milestone for both Carbon America and the region. The application is the culmination of years of technical analysis and data collection enabled by our deep subsurface and regulatory expertise.”
To validate the proposed underground storage site, in May 2023 Carbon America drilled a stratigraphic test well to collect well logs, core samples, and fluid samples to determine if the CO2 injection site meets and exceeds EPA standards. Carbon America chose to drill the well and analyze results in advance of submitting an application to ensure a robust and comprehensive submittal to the EPA team.
The Class VI Underground Injection Control (UIC) program, under the Safe Drinking Water Act, regulates the underground injection of carbon dioxide (CO2). This application for geologic storage in Washington County is the first Class VI permit to be submitted to the Region 8 office. EPA Region 8 oversees Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. North Dakota and Wyoming have obtained state primacy over Class VI permits, while the other states are still under the authority of the EPA.
If approved, the Class VI CO2 Injection Well will permanently store up to 350,000 metric tons per year of CO2 that is produced annually at the Yuma and Sterling Ethanol Plants in northeastern Colorado, which is equivalent to taking 70,000 passenger vehicles off the road. The carbon capture and storage project will help the state meet its emission reduction goals to reduce statewide emissions by 50 percent by 2030, and 90 percent by 2050, while supporting the ethanol plants and the regional agricultural industry, which sells 36 million bushels of field corn to the plants annually.
The CCS injection well is located on Colorado state trust land. The State Land Board is the state agency that oversees trust land and mineral estate, and the agency leases these trust assets to earn money for public schools. The payments made by Carbon America for the lease at this site will support the Colorado Department of Education’s Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program that provides capital construction grants to schools. In fiscal year 2023, the State Land Board cumulatively generated $301.8 million on behalf of Colorado public schools.
Carbon America will finance, build, own and operate the commercial CCS project which has been named Denova after a local historical post office and meteorite. The project is expected to capture 95 percent of annual carbon dioxide emissions from the fermentation process at the plants before it can be released into the atmosphere. It will then transport the CO2 via underground pipeline to the permanent geologic storage site approximately 5,000 feet below surface.
“We worked closely with the agencies to carefully select and evaluate the proposed geologic storage location in Washington County to ensure we meet all necessary safety and environmental standards,” said Jessica Gregg, Director of Environmental and Regulatory Compliance at Carbon America. “We remain steadfast in our dedication to transparency, collaboration, and compliance with regulatory requirements throughout the permitting process.”
Carbon America encourages public engagement and will be actively participating in the public consultation process as part of the permitting procedures. The company remains committed to keeping stakeholders informed and involved throughout this crucial permitting phase.