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VLS Receives Grant to Research Regulation of Carbon Sequestration

February 20, 2008

CONTACT: Diane Derby, Director of Media Relations

SOUTH ROYALTON, VT – Vermont Law School announced today that it will share in a research grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to develop a regulatory framework for the safe sequestration of carbon dioxide in the United States. VLS is partnering with Carnegie Mellon, the University of Minnesota and the Washington D.C.-based law firm of Van Ness Feldman in the push to develop clean energy technologies.

The geological sequestration process involves removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal and natural gas before and after combustion and depositing it safely in deep geological formations, thereby taking it out of the atmosphere and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Institute for Energy and the Environment at VLS will receive $167,500 through the grant to research liability issues as they relate to the carbon sequestration process, propose a liability legal framework tailored to sequestration, and consider whether a comprehensive federal statutory approach is needed.

"Atmospheric data and climatic science make clear that we must rapidly reduce the greenhouse gases that we are sending into the atmosphere. Of those gases, the most significant are carbon dioxide emissions from the coal-fired power plants that produce more than half of our electricity," said IEE Director Michael Dworkin.

Controlling the emissions, Dworkin said, will require a three-part strategy that will include:

  • reducing demand for electricity by increasing the efficiency with which we deliver and use energy;
  • encouraging and deploying renewable and alternative energy sources that produce electricity without high carbon emissions;
  • capturing and disposing of carbon from the fossil-fired power plants that are still needed to produce electric power.

America needs, but does not yet have, consensus on the technical and legal standards for that third challenge — the capture, transit, and disposal of carbon pollution, Dworkin noted.

"We look forward to working with experts from Carnegie Mellon, Van Ness Feldman, and the University of Minnesota — some of the world's leading experts on technology and risk assessment — as we try to help meet that challenge," he said.

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