The U.S. Forest Service proposed a change in regulations on Monday that would allow it to consider requests to inject carbon dioxide beneath the 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands. Carbon sequestration is a key element in President Biden’s goal of net-zero U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050.
At present, the Forest Service is barred from authorizing “exclusive and perpetual use and occupancy” of its land by outsiders, a prohibition that would apply to carbon storage, since the gas would remain underground for hundreds of years. The proposed regulation would create an exemption for carbon capture and storage projects.
If approved, the USDA agency could “authorize proposed carbon capture and storage on NFS (National Forest System) lands if, where, and as deemed appropriate,” according to a notice in the Federal Register. Public comments will be accepted until Jan 2. The Forest Service said the proposed rule would harmonize carbon storage regulations with the Bureau of Land Management, the other major federal land manager. The BLM issued its carbon storage policy in July 2022.
The National Forest System has 154 national forests and 20 national grasslands in 44 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The Forest Service administers 74,000 special use authorizations for activities on forest system land such as power lines, communications facilities, resorts, concession stands, and guiding and outfitting.
To read the Federal Register notice, click here.