California’s First Class VI Well Draft Permit Approved by U.S. EPA
23rd December 2023
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has just approved a draft permit for four Class VI injection wells in California. Under the U.S. EPA’s Underground Injection Control (UIC) program, Class VI wells are used to safely inject carbon dioxide (CO2) into deep underground formations isolated from underground sources of drinking water, where it can be permanently trapped and stored. This will be the first such permit approved for California.
When the final Class VI permit is granted, California Resources Corporation (CRC) will be authorized to inject captured CO2 from power plants and industrial sources into oil- and gas- depleted formations within its Elk Hills field in Kern County. Up to 1.46 million tonnes of CO2 are expected to be injected into the storage formation for this project, which comprises up to 38 million tonnes of CO2 storage resources.
Class VI injection wells are already operating in several US States, including Illinois, North Dakota, and Wyoming. In the history of the UIC program, only 12 Class VI permits have been approved in the United States (six by the U.S. EPA and six by state authorities in North Dakota and Wyoming, which are currently the only two states which have been granted primary enforcement authority, or primacy, for the UIC Class VI well program). A queue of approximately 75 Class VI well applications for sites in 14 U.S. states is currently being reviewed by U.S. EPA regional offices, or by state officials in Wyoming or North Dakota.
Approval of this draft Class VI permit marks an important milestone for California, which has the goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2045;, as well as for the United States, which has the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
Carbon capture and storage is a proven technology which has safely and effectively been implemented in the United States for nearly 50 years and is a vital tool to contribute to net-zero goals at local, federal, and international levels.