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A Threat to Drinking Water and the Environment

The most common use of captured carbon dioxide (CO2) is enhanced oil recovery, or EOR. While carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) may prove to be a viable strategy for addressing climate change, using captured carbon to increase the production of fossil fuels — i.e. oil and gas — runs counter to, and undermines the climate mitigation goals of carbon capture and storage. At the same time, CO2-EOR presents risks to groundwater, the surface environment, and the health of communities living near oil fields. As a known threat to drinking water sources, enhanced oil recovery is regulated by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Underground Injection Control (UIC) program. Our research has found this program to be inadequate in protecting groundwater, relying on outdated rules, and insufficient data collection and staffing levels to ensure safety.

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