The Limits of Liability in Promoting Safe Geologic Sequestration of CO2

Deployment of new technologies is vital to climate change policy, but it invariably poses difficult tradeoffs.  Carbon capture and storage (“CCS”), which involves the capture and permanent burial of CO2 emissions, exemplifies this problem. This article provides an overview of CCS in Part I, focusing on geologic sequestration, and analyzes the scientific work on the potential for releases of CO2 and brine from sequestrian reservoirs. Part II evaluates the comparative advantages of government regulation and common law liability. Part III examines the relative efficiencies of different doctrines of common law liability when applied to likely releases from sequestrian sites.  The authors propose a hybrid legal framework in Part IV that combines a traditional regulatory regime with a novel two-tiered system of liability that is calibrated to objective site characteristics.

Related Downloads