Milton R. Young station by night, project tundra

The Milton R. Young Station by night.

A notice to proceed on the $1 billion Project Tundra could be issued as soon as this year, according to information shared at the recent Vision West Consortium’s annual meeting in Hazen.

Project Tundra is North Dakota’s flagship carbon capture and sequestration project. According to the project’s website, it will capture up to 90 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from he Milton R. Young Station, taking 4 million metric tons of carbon out of the atmosphere annually, or the equivalent of 800,000 gasoline-fueled vehicles off the road.

The North Dakota Industrial Commission recently approved a Class VI injection permit for Project Tundra, to store all that carbon dioxide in deep underground wells that lie between 5,000 to 9,000 feet beneath the earth’s surface.

Minnkota Power is leading Project Tundra with support from the Energy and Environmental Research Center at UND, which has been studying geologic storage of carbon dioxide in North Dakota for more than two decades.

Project Tundra is seen by many public officials in the state as a vital element in developing a sustainable path forward for North Dakota’s coal sector. The project is one of several in North Dakota that have been helped along by the 45Q tax credit, which provides $50 per ton of carbon dioxide permanently stored. Project Tundra has also applied for grants from entities like the Clean Sustainable Energy Authority and the Lignite Research Council.

North Dakota is one of only two states that have been given the authority to permit carbon dioxide storage by the Environmental Protection Agency. Project Tundra’s Class VI injection well permit is only the second to be issued in the state.

Sen. John Hoeven has been working since 2008 to lay the groundwork for CCUS in North Dakota, and has been instrumental in helping the state gain primacy over Class VI injection wells.

“Through Project Tundra and similar efforts, North Dakota is leading the way in developing and implementing CCUS technologies, which will allow us to produce more energy from all of our abundant resources while reducing emissions,” Hoeven said. “We’ve worked since 2008 to lay the groundwork for CCUS in our state, and I appreciate the NDIC for making good use of the authority we’ve secured to help move Project Tundra forward. Now, we continue working to enhance the 45Q tax credit and make it more accessible to project developers, which is key to bringing these technologies to market.”

Getting a Class VI permit is not an easy feat. It requires significant data collection, analysis and documentation to show that the storage will be safe and permanent. Permits require installation of a broad array of monitoring technologies to track the movement of carbon dioxide in the subsurface, These include both downhole and surface carbon dioxide sensors.

“We are grateful to have worked with Minnkota to help advance Project Tundra,” EERC CEO Charlie Gorecki said. “This project brings together energy and environmental science and technology to use North Dakota resources in a safe, clean and sustainable manner. By applying carbon capture and storage at a coal-based power plant, we don’t have to choose between reliability, affordability and environmentally sound energy sources – we can have all three!”

Minnkota anticipates deciding whether to move forward with Project Tundra in late 2022. Construction of Project Tundra would likely take three to four years once it begins. The facility could be operational as soon as 2025, but will more likely be in 2026.

“North Dakota is positioned to be a global leader in finding solutions to reduce CO2 emissions,” said Mac McLennan, Minnkota President and CEO. “Not only do we have ideal geology for CO2 storage, we also have a state that promotes innovation and provides leadership in the development of cutting-edge energy technologies.”

Minnkota power is also working with Oxygen Low Carbon Ventures, which has 50 years of experience in executing carbon management.

“We congratulate Minnkota on the approval of the Class VI permit and are proud to contribute to this groundbreaking initiative to build a carbon capture facility at their plant,” said Dr. Doug Conquest, Vice President, Services, Oxy Low Carbon Ventures. “Geologic sequestration is a safe, permanent solution for industries seeking to reduce their carbon footprint and meet their CO2 emission reduction objectives.”

Biden approves more drilling permits than Trump

It mays seem counterintuitive, but President Joe Biden’s administration has approved over 900 more drilling permits on federal lands in 2021 than the Trump administration in its first year of office. That’s according to Department of Interior data compiled by the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group which was particularly unhappy with the figure, and published it to chastise Biden, who has promised to make climate change a central part of his administration’s efforts.

Department of Interior issued a statement in response to the criticism that it was simply following the law in processing so many permits. The Department also said it is working to strengthen environmental protection. Inclusion of the social cost of greenhouse gasses will be part of that.

Federal leasing faces an uncertain future under Biden, who started his term off by ordering a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal lands. A Louisiana court found the moratorium unlawful and said Biden’s administration cannot simply stop holding lease sales while it reworks the program.

The Biden Administration is appealing that decision, while simultaneously slow-walking new lease sales. North Dakota did not have any lease sales in 2021, despite the fact first quarter sales had already been teed up by the Bureau of Land Management prior to Trump leaving office. The state filed suit to try and impose a deadline by which such lease sales would resume.

The Bureau of Land Management, meanwhile, told the judge in North Dakota’s case that North Dakota is supposed to have a lease sale in early 2022, and that it is working to comply with the Louisiana court’s order.

The judge was Daniel M. Traynor. He told the state it is too soon for the suit that it has filed, and that the proper venue for enforcement is actually the Louisiana court where the nationwide injunction was issued.

Granholm in Mexico

Mexico is the largest export destination for U.S. natural gas and refined products, but there is concern over some of the country’s recent energy proposals, where Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador is pushing for greater state controls.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm recently traveled to the country to discuss American concern that the proposals won’t comply with the USMCA and said she was reassured that Mexico will continue to support clean energy and will resolve disputes with energy projects under the “rule of law.”

API Vice President of Corporate Policy Stephen Comstock called Granholm’s trip a “good first step” in addressing Mexico’s non-compliance with USMCA, but urged the administration to consider more formal enforcement action.

“The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement provides a critical framework for free and fair trade across North America,” he said. “Mexico, in particular, is the largest export destination for U.s. natural gas and refined products. Unfortunately, Mexico continues to undermine this agreement with discriminatory policies that favor state-run energy companies while hindering private investment and putting U.S. companies and workers at a disadvantage.”

Meetings & More

Electric vehicle adoption in Montana, MSU webinars from 9 to 11 a.m. Jan. 28, March 4, and May 6. Series will look at the problems and opportunities of electric vehicle adoption in Montana. Details online at montana.edu/extensionecon/electricvehicles.

Permian methane emissions study, funded by Environmental Defense Fund, used methane detecting drones to catalog emissions in the basin from 2019 to 2021. The group hopes to use that data to force the EPA to do more frequent monitoring. The study is online at https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.aaz5120.

Reclamation workshop, March 1 in Dickinson at the Astoria Event Center. Fee is $90 if paid by Feb. 7. Details online at https://tinyurl.com/4wbzsszp.

Comment period open for ONEOK air pollution control permit renewal through Feb. 25. Details online at https://tinyurl.com/4awan5pu.

API’s State of American Energy digital report is out. The full report is online at https://events.api.org/soae-2022/.

New CDL requirements go into effect Feb. 7. Learn more at tpr.fmcsa.dot.gov.

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