Publication Date

Spring 2024

Degree Type

Master's Project


Urban and Regional Planning

First Advisor

Charles Rivasplata


Policy alternatives, CO2 mineralization, Efficient CO2 seperation


This report serves primary purpose of finding prospective policies that could be useful in CARB’s new carbon sequestration program as mandated by S. B. 905. The bill states program goals and provides several objectives that direct the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA), the California Air Resource Board (CARB), and the California Geological Survey (CGS, or just Survey) with various responsibilities. Curiously, S.B. 905 does not mention the Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM or CalFire), although it has primary responsibility for issuing permits for hazardous pipelines as an agent of the federal Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

Pipelines for transporting carbon dioxide have been in use in this country for decades in oil operations and there have been proposals to use them in local and national networks for carbon sequestration. The idea is to transport captured emission carbon dioxide from hard to abate industries to underground storage in California and elsewhere. The IRS 45Q tax incentive would more than cover the present cost of operations and levelized cost of construction capital. The federal Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) published a set of guidelines for federal agencies to coordinate their cooperation.

However, S. B. 905 prohibits carbon dioxide pipeline transfers across parcel boundaries until the PHMSA issues a Notice of Final Rulemaking from one of its present proceedings. That was two years ago and the PHMSA planned to reveal preliminary results at the end of May 2024, but did not. The PHMSA made a solicitation for research that could address a problem, or the causes of a serious event.

There was an accidental release in a pipeline that was transferring carbon dioxide from Mississippi to Texas. Accidental release? It was an explosion that left a 30 ft. crater and created a huge plume of carbon dioxide that travelled with the prevailing winds and settled to the ground before it dispersed. It affected the small town of Satartia where a local hospital admitted 200 people from the incident. The concentrated carbon dioxide could have asphyxiated them, but the weather service and the first responders moved people out of harm’s way. It is amazing that no one died. It all happened fast: 80,000 barrels in 8 minutes according to the investigative report. All because of an earth movement caused by heavy rains that placed a strain on an underground pipeline. The most that the PHMSA could do was levy fines, force the sale of the pipeline operator to Exxon and look to the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) for help. Other researchers published interim results in 2023 indicating that they were close to developing a new design tool that can delimit a safe operating region to prevent running ductile fracture (RDF). This would be a great relief for the industry, but still leaves point brittle fractures like the one at Satartia as an unsolved problem.

My policy analysis reference work establishes six steps for policy analysis: 1 “verify, define, and detail the problem”; 2 “establish evaluation criteria”; 3 “identify alternative policies”; 4 “evaluate alternative policies”; 5 “display and distinguish among alternative policies”; 6 “monitor and evaluate the implemented policy” (Patton, Sawicki and Clark 2016, 43). Section 1.1 provide details on how I applied this process to elucidate the research question. Section 1.9 details how I applied the process was to analyze carbon sequestration policy and arrive at the recommendations.