Government of Lower Saxony Presents CCS Bill to Rule Out Permanent CO2 Storage

On Tuesday the government of the State of Lower Saxony approved a State CO2 Storage bill (Nie­dersächsische Kohlendioxid-Speicherungsgesetz – NKSpG) and submitted it to the associations involved in the matter for review (so-called Verbändeanhörung). The law shall ensure that there will be no permanent CO2 storage in Lower Saxony, the government said.

1. Information on the NKSpG Bill

As the bill itself is not yet publicly available, the following information is taken from the press release.

The government justifies the bill by saying that large parts of Lower Saxony lacked the geological conditions for safe permanent CO2 storage, while in other parts of the state significant interests in for example the protection of water and medicinal springs, the wider (cultural) countryside, tourism and mining permits, were conflicting with CO2 storage. Besides, capture and storage of CO2 known as CCS was highly controversial and not without risks.

Economics Minister Olaf Lies said tests had shown that Lower Saxony was not suited to store CO2 underground permanently in a safe way. Hence the bill excluded the use of such technologies. The state argues that it was making use of an opening clause in the federal CCS law (please see the background information below).

The bill also authorises the Economics Ministry to lay down requirements for public participation prior to planning procedures for the construction, operation and major changes of CO2 pipelines (another very controversial subjet in Germany).

2. Background Information

As one way of reducing CO2 emissions the European Parliament and Council adopted Directive 2009/31/EC on the geological storage of carbon dioxide in 2009, setting the framework for carbon capture and storage (CCS) in the European Union. After much debate Germany transposed the Directive in 2012. Since 24 August 2012 the Act on the Demonstration and Use of the Technology for the Capture, Transport and Permanent Storage of CO2 (Gesetz zur Demonstration und Anwendung von Technologien zur Abscheidung, zum Transport und zur dauerhaften Speicherung von Kohlendioxid – KSpG) applies. It regulates research into, testing of and demonstration projects for permanent storage of CCS in underground layers of rock (cf. Section 1 sent. 2 KSpG).

KSpG only passed the Federal Council (that represents the interests of the sixteen German states – Länder) after a clause was introduced according to which the Länder can regulate that testing and demonstration of permanent storage is only allowed in certain areas or ruled out in specific areas. When designating such areas the states have to consider other ways to use the potential storage sites, the geological particularities of the area and other public interests (cf. Section 2 para. 5 KSpG). Lower Saxony, where many potential CCS sites are located, was particularly active in canvassing for his clause.

Even though the restrictions of the NKSpG bill seem to be very far reaching (and possibly exceed the room for state legislation provided for in the KSpG ), the press release states that Lower Saxony was making use of Section 2 para. 5 in KSpG.

Source: State of Lower Saxony

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