The Big Sky "drill baby drill" project – just another dry hole into which taxpayer money is sequestered

From Montana State University, news of a big drilling project, except this one produces nothing.

Schematic illustration of carbon capture and storage at Kevin Dome in Montana. Courtesy Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership.

MSU moves forward with U.S. Department of Energy backed carbon dioxide storage project in northern Montana

Montana State University finalized negotiations with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy – National Energy Technology Laboratory on Tuesday to begin work on a $67 million, eight-year project that will involve permitting, injecting and monitoring one million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into deep porous rock formations in northern Montana. MSU received the preliminary award in 2009 and has been finalizing details on site selection, logistics, and project partners for the project to proceed.

The overall goal of the project is to demonstrate that CO2 can be stored safely and viably in regional geologic formations. It will be carried out by the Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership at MSU.

Carbon storage, also known as carbon sequestration, is the capture and storage of CO2 gas that would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere. Carbon storage is seen as one possible strategy to help stabilize global CO2 emissions and reduce the impacts of climate change.

“This grant award demonstrates, once again, MSU’s national competitiveness in the search for energy solutions and our excellence in research and teaching,” said MSU President Waded Cruzado.

Under the umbrella of the MSU Energy Research Institute, the university conducts about $15 million in energy research annually. That research is part of the university’s $109 million research enterprise, for which it is recognized by the Carnegie Foundation as one of the top 108 research universities in the country.

The Montana congressional delegation of Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester and Rep. Denny Rehberg recognize the importance of carbon storage to the nation’s energy systems and have strongly supported federal programs and MSU research in this area.

The success of MSU’s energy research also owes credit to Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, Cruzado said. “The governor’s office and the Montana congressional delegation have been very supportive of energy research at MSU and across the state.”

The project site will be located at Kevin Dome (pronounced kee-vin), a geologic feature that extends 700 square miles underground and has trapped naturally occurring carbon dioxide (CO2) for millions of years. There are barrier rock layers above the CO2 that prevent gas or other liquids from migrating to the surface.

The CO2 does not take up all of the space and therefore the dome has potential to store additional CO2. The partnership will inject CO2 into a rock layer that has not previously had CO2. This will allow the scientists to study rocks that have been previously exposed to CO2 and rocks that have not had previous CO2 exposure.

“Since we are getting the CO2 from a naturally occurring source, we can learn from nature how the CO2 has been stored safely in rock formations for millions of years,” said Lee Spangler, partnership director. “This grant will enable us to learn about the transportation, injection and monitoring of CO2 in an engineered system.”

The site is located in northern Toole County near the communities of Shelby, Kevin and Sunburst, Mont. Sunburst Mayor Gary Iverson commented “We see this project as having a very positive impact in our region. It brings international recognition and positive economic benefits for the eight years of the project as well as possible future opportunities.”

Local Montana companies will be hired for the project permitting, site development, well drilling and operations work. Altamont Oil and Gas of Cutbank will be responsible for site development and operations and Bison Engineering of Billings and Helena will work with state agencies on project permitting. Project funds will also be spent on local services and fuel.

Partnership scientists and engineers will share new technology and research in sustainable energy with students and teachers. Throughout the project, the partnership plans to create learning opportunities and experiences for local Toole County students and MSU students.

At Montana State, almost three dozen faculty, staff and students will be part of the project. Staff and students at MSU will be involved with project and data management, permitting, public outreach and education, geologic studies, and monitoring.

“Having continuous open communication with stakeholders is very important for the partnership,” said Lindsey Tollefson, project manager for the partnership.

Public meetings will be held throughout all stages of the project’s life cycle, staff will be available to meet with individuals, and local input will be considered in decision making, she said.

Additionally, project information will be available at as well as through regular newsletters.

The eight year project will begin with environmental studies for permitting and collecting background data prior to building necessary infrastructure.

During the operational phase, the partnership will inject one million tons of CO2 into the dome almost a mile underneath the earth’s surface. Monitoring of the environment will be conducted throughout the life of the project until site closure.

Project operations will be designed in consultation with local farmers, ranchers and community members to ensure that work takes place during appropriate seasons and with local activities in mind. The public will be notified in advance of any project related activities taking place on the ground.

In addition to the $67 million of federal funding, private partners are contributing another $18 million in required matching funds for the project. Led by MSU, the Kevin Dome storage project will be a team effort that draws upon expertise from both the public and private sector. The team includes four other universities, three national laboratories and five private sector companies and has experience with carbon storage projects in Washington, Wyoming, Canada, Illinois, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and internationally.

Three companies, Vecta Oil and Gas, SR2020 Inc. and Schlumberger are providing the bulk of the matching funds for the project. Vecta and SR2020 are involved in the seismic survey which will be one of the first steps of the project to ensure the geology is suitable and help determine the best locations for the wells. Schlumberger will core and log wells to provide more detailed geologic data about the subsurface.

Safety is a priority for the team. The project will exceed standard commercial practices to minimize all health, safety and environmental risks. The CO2, geology, water, soil, air, and infrastructure will be extensively monitored by systems placed both above and below ground at the site.

All project activities will adhere to state and federal regulatory guidelines and obtain any required permits. This project will also have U.S. DOE oversight.

This project is the third phase of the Big Sky Partnership. The first phase of the program identified and characterized the carbon sources and sinks in the region and the second phase has focused on determining the best approaches for storing CO2 in both geologic and terrestrial systems. Small scale terrestrial and geologic field tests are currently under way by the partnership.

Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership (BSCSP)

Led by Montana State University, the Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership (BSCSP) is one of seven partnerships involved in the US Department of Energy’s Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership program. The BSCSP relies on existing technologies from the fields of engineering, geology, chemistry, biology, geographic information systems and economics to develop novel approaches for both geologic and terrestrial carbon storage in our region. The BSCSP region encompasses Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, South Dakota, eastern Washington and Oregon. Its membership includes universities, national laboratories, private companies, state agencies and Native American tribes. More information can be found at

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August 5, 2011 6:29 pm

Why don’t they just take that CO2 and sell it to Pepsi?

August 5, 2011 6:35 pm

$85 million…..
….because the concentration of CO2 went up 0.01%

August 5, 2011 6:36 pm

Dear Citizens of Montana,
Have you lost your collective minds? Are you just rolling in so much cash that you can’t find enough ways to spend it? Do you have any idea of the scale of global CO2 emissions on a daily basis? Do you realize that the amount of CO2 that you will inject into that well on a daily basis will have absolutely no measurable impact whatsoever on daily global CO2 emissions?
You are about to spend $67 million for something that will have absolutely no impact whatsoever. You would actually save everyone a lot of time and money by taking $67 million in one dollar bills and burying them in a landfill or use them for fill in strip mining reclamation if your need to blow cash is just that great.
I always had a lot of respect for the common sense of the folks from Montana. “Had” is the operative word in that sentence.

August 5, 2011 6:37 pm

That’s mighty close to the Alberta Border. I wonder if it’ll leak across? One million tons of ‘carbon’ eh? Out of how many billion? More wasted energy with an unknown outcome.

August 5, 2011 6:38 pm

Funny, because thousands of tons per day are “mined” from CO2 Production Wells in Mississippi… much of the CO2 sold from these wells is NOT sequestered in EOR, but is sold for food processing, beer, etc.

August 5, 2011 6:57 pm

Well, we got our Standard and Poors downgrade today, and it is just because of this kind of stuff. We borrow money to do stuff like this? Then that money is on our tab the rest of our lives? I would rather they took the cash down to the ghetto and gave it out, than put it in a hole in the ground.

August 5, 2011 6:58 pm

I’ve got a better way to get rid of Satan’s gas, commonly called carbon dioxide. Make an airtight greenhouse, put trees in big pots so that they have room to grow, pump it full of CO2 and nitrogen, have a built-in and automatic watering system, and let nature get rid of the gas that kills babies and punches kittens.
Seriously, CO2 is not evil! You don’t need to waste all this energy to drill just to remove it from the atmosphere. My greenhouse idea will rid the atmosphere of CO2, cost less money, and produce something that benefits us all. But when you have a pseudo-scare you need a pseudo-solution that wastes real money that has to be borrowed from a country who cares nothing about the pseudo-scare.
It is things like this that make me wonder how much more stupid humans can get. I want to ask them, how much energy will it take to sequester 1 million tons of CO2? How much will the temperature drop by removing that much CO2? How much CO2 are you putting into the atmosphere to capture that much CO2, transport that much CO2, and drill to sequester CO2? Are you using “green” energy to capture CO2, and if not, why not? How much money is each person going to make to carry out this plan and why does the director need such a big house?

August 5, 2011 7:10 pm

What a political scam. Energy companies, including the one I work for have been extracting, transporting and re-injecting CO2 for 20+ years in New Mexico and West Texas. They will learn nothing that is not already known.

Doug in Seattle
August 5, 2011 7:13 pm

Didn’t the Canadians try something quite similar in Saskatchewan? If I remember correctly that test is leaking CO2.

Jay Davis
August 5, 2011 7:13 pm


August 5, 2011 7:17 pm

“I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more”.
P.S Rather than take the bus down to the protest at Parliament House in Canberra, I’ll be driving my nice big comfortable sedan that has a nice big 6 litre V8, and I have my “I my carbon footprint” bumper sticker on order. Take that.

August 5, 2011 7:19 pm

(in my anger, I left out a love heart: “I my carbon footprint”. Sigh)

August 5, 2011 7:20 pm

Ah – this blog doesn’t allow angled backets, for now obvious reasons.
It angers me that this blog has taken the wind out of my sails. ;^)

August 5, 2011 7:23 pm

Time to abolish the Department of Energy (along with many others).
/Mr Lynn

August 5, 2011 7:43 pm

I’m trying to understand.

The overall goal of the project is to demonstrate that CO2 can be stored safely and viably in regional geologic formations.

Okay, but…

The project site will be located at Kevin Dome (pronounced kee-vin), a geologic feature that extends 700 square miles underground and has trapped naturally occurring carbon dioxide (CO2) for millions of years. There are barrier rock layers above the CO2 that prevent gas or other liquids from migrating to the surface.

So — doesn’t that kind of already prove their point? This thing has stored CO2 safely for “millions of years.”
And how much CO2 is going to be generated by the huge machines drilling almost a mile into the earth, not to mention the supporting infrastructure and transportation for workers? And all of this to take CO2 from one part of the cavern and inject it into another part of the cavern?
Obviously the real reason for this project is to keep money out of the school systems which might otherwise educate the population to the point that they know this is a load of crap.
Or — is this a hoax? That’s it, isn’t it? It’s a hoax. Of course. Nobody, but nobody would be this stupid.
Good one. You really had me going there.

August 5, 2011 7:46 pm

It is too bad this subsidized stupidity isn’t occurring in DC – when this goes horribly wrong the people responsible for it should be right in the middle of it.

August 5, 2011 8:04 pm

This is over the top, America is broke- it “doesn’t have a pot to piss in”. And yet they are going to blow $67 Million which will turn into a S billion in the blink of an eye!
The news tonight is the USA credit rating has been down graded from AAA to AA+- this is bad news but so might stop the needless waste such as this experiment in failure. The Obama is progressive administration finished the economy will go into a free fall!

August 5, 2011 8:05 pm

It’s tough to stay calm amidst such insanity.

August 5, 2011 8:13 pm

What if something goes wrong, the well blows, and instead of sequestering CO2 the project ends up releasing into the atmosphere the CO2 that was previously sequestered?

August 5, 2011 8:16 pm

roughly speaking the CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing 1000 toms every 2 sec. So if you sequester 1,000,000 toms you have saved the planet approx 30 minutes of CO2 increasing. And for only 67 million dollars what a great venture !!!!

August 5, 2011 8:26 pm

Please try to remember that when the government creates shovel-ready jobs it is for the express purpose of throwing money down a hole.

August 5, 2011 8:32 pm

Here’s how it works. We put up 18 million. That gets the Fed in here with their 67 Million, all spent in the state, for a cost-benefit ratio of 1:3.7 in our favor. If the rest of you guys are dumb enough to spent this kind of money on foolishness, the least we can do is be available to accept it. Yippee ti yay!

August 5, 2011 8:39 pm

All that fuss, energy and money spent on trace Leaverite.
If they only had a brain, they would be selling the CO2 or using it in large greenhouses.
Someone forgot to tell them about waste not, want not.

August 5, 2011 8:42 pm

CO2 injection has been done for years all over North America. The “new” thing is testing different formations for long term storage but a lot of it is simply putting a “green” face on things that have been done for years under the name of “enhanced oil recovery”.
Montana has a bunch of oil, shale gas, survivalists and nut Hollywood environmentalists imported from California – Montana recently blocked the shipment of equipment to the Alberta Oil Sands and they have done it previously. The interesting thing is that the upgraded oil is sent back to Montana and other US locations for refining into gasoline so by blocking that shipment of equipment, Montana is killing Montana jobs. Course no one has accused the Governor of Montana of being a genius.
Montana used to be my favourite port of entry into the US when driving from Alberta. Now I go to Idaho where they appreciate my tourist dollar.

Richard carroll
August 5, 2011 8:49 pm

Harry Reid, in an interview suggested that one of the first cuts to be made by the deficit compromise will be carbon sequestrian which He implied next to defense the Republicans love.

Gary Hladik
August 5, 2011 8:51 pm

Dennis says (August 5, 2011 at 8:32 pm): “If the rest of you guys are dumb enough to spent this kind of money on foolishness, the least we can do is be available to accept it. Yippee ti yay!”
Oh, wow, you Montanans certainly are clever, except that there are 49 other states spending your money on their projects!
The US will never get its AAA bond rating back until the voters realize that there’s nothing quite as expensive as a free lunch.
(And yes, I realize Dennis wrote in jest.)

August 5, 2011 8:51 pm

I have to wonder how involved Ted Turner is in all of this.

August 5, 2011 8:55 pm

What a !@#$%^&* waste of time and money!
Obviously there is always somebody out there who is willing to make money when its being offered with no strings attached regarding success or failure. It’s the perfect legal scam!

August 5, 2011 9:02 pm

Why listen to comedians or go to comedy movies? We have the all the Democrats and some Republicans too, that we can rely on for a good time.
Meanwhile, Germany is scrapping solar and going coal. Too fantastic to be believable, this whole warm-earther fiasco.

August 5, 2011 9:04 pm

It saddens me to know that my grandchildren will have to pay for all this wasteful spending, or possibly they won’t as the present government seems to be heading us for bankruptcy, Of course the consequences of either scenario are probably equally extreme.
Keep in mind that is in addition to CCS plant to be built in Illinois for a project that was previously cancelled because of enormous overruns. It is a shame that the $$$ the congress recently authorized by raising the debt ceiling is being squandered as quickly as possible.
Don’t they realize that besides the waste, the energy required to execute these projects is huge. The energy to compresss the CO2 for injection makes these projects totally non economic in the real world. Then again Washington does not seem to live in the relal world.

Ed Mertin
August 5, 2011 9:41 pm

Funny, digging expensive holes. Since the Alpha Kappa Psi brothers… Sam Walton, Richard Nixon and Ronald Raygun they’ve been digging us into a hole. The last three administrations have been digging and asking for more shovels. Help us China, oh please help us, buy our debt! Please!!!
Alright, Canada was in the same mess and got themselves out. We can do it too. What does the world need? Cheap energy. We have it. Cheniere Energy is building a port. LNG is change we can believe in. We have a lot more oil than we knew about also. Now can we please elect a leader who is not a slut or a narcissistic drunken fool or a rank amateur please? Buy American every time it’s possible. Put people to work, get revenue up, and live within your means.

ferd berple
August 5, 2011 9:52 pm

“It is a shame that the $$$ the congress recently authorized by raising the debt ceiling is being squandered as quickly as possible.”
The reason given to raise the debt ceiling was so that the US credit rating would not be downgraded. Or so the politicians and press predicted. Now that the debt ceiling has been raised, the credit rating has been downgraded.
Who could have predicted? What will all the economic models, how could they have been so wrong that they couldn’t even predict 3 days in advance? And they tell us they can predict the world 100 years into the future.
Every child born in the US is automatically $50k in debt, and rising sharply. Most of it owed to China. Selling people into slavery used to at one time be illegal. No longer. Indentured Servitude, courtesy of the US government. While Rome burns, Nero fiddles.

August 5, 2011 9:59 pm

This is beyond stupid. It is economic and physical idiocy. What a waste of time. Can anyone imagine what that amount of money would do if directed at something useful? Like termite or cockroach control?

August 5, 2011 10:09 pm

Our stupid government is bowing to the greenies. It makes me want to barf. The EPA should be shut down immediately before they regulate our country into a third world nation. When the US catches a cold, the rest of the world comes down with the flu.

old construction worker
August 5, 2011 10:09 pm

“I have to wonder how involved Ted Turner is in all of this.”
Ted maybe leasing the land to them.

F. Patrick Crowley
August 5, 2011 10:14 pm

As a 1960’s graduate of the University of Montana, I would have thought that the hippies in Missoula would have thought of this first, but then I realized they have already perfected their own GHG sequestration process. 1040 ppm CO2 concentrations in their greenhouses for medical marijuana makes the pot grow really stoner buds.
But then perhaps the Griz (U of M) were the source of inspiration for the MSU project. Go Bobcats!

August 5, 2011 10:15 pm

CO2 reservoirs available to man:
limestone 60000000 gigatonnes
sediments 15000000 gigatonnes
methane clathrates 11000 gigatonnes
DIC deep 38000 gigatonnes
mineral 1220 gigatonnes
Atmosphere 750 gigatonnes
DOC deep 700 gigatonnes
other soil 600 gigatonnes
Plants 550 gigatonnes
peat 360 gigatonnes
POC soil 250 gigatonnes
DOC surface 40 gigatonnes
POC deep 20 gigatonnes
microbial 15 gigatonnes
POC surface 5 gigatonnes
Montana sequestration 0.001 gigatonne

August 5, 2011 10:28 pm

Agree with Grant Hodges & Dave. Chop DOE, NASA-GISS and most of the EPA. What about sacking everyone that earns more than $100,000 at the EPA, that would turn the country around quickly (ie more productivity) and at the sametime save hundreds on millions in useless payments.

August 5, 2011 10:29 pm

What? Only spending $67 million.
Across the border, Alberta has committed $2 billion into a similar scheme.

August 5, 2011 10:35 pm

Sample of How the IPCC AR5 will be developed: (Warning – Humour intended)
Copper wire:
After having dug to a depth of 10 feet last year, New York Scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 100 years and came to the conclusion, that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 100 years ago.
Not to be outdone by the New Yorkers, in the weeks that followed, a California archaeologist dug to a depth of 20 feet, and shortly after, A story in the LA Times read: “California archaeologists, finding of 200 year old copper wire, have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network a hundred years earlier than the New Yorkers”
One week later. A local newspaper in Mississippi reported the following: “After digging as deep as 30 feet in his pasture near Laurel, Mississippi, Bubba, a self-taught archaeologist, reported that he found absolutely nothing. Bubba has therefore concluded that 300 years ago, Mississippi had already gone wireless”.
Nothing to see here. Move on 😉

August 5, 2011 10:40 pm

Just after posting I read this “Inhofe Calls on Obama EPA to Halt Ozone Standard Announcement Given Scientific Integrity Concerns” at
The EPA & Lisa Jackson are about destroying jobs & productivity by undemocratic means.

August 5, 2011 10:53 pm

The moment we stop spending money at so called climate problems, our economy will start growing. And the world will be a better place.

August 5, 2011 11:58 pm

jaymam says:
August 5, 2011 at 10:15 pm
Thanks for the numbers. They put a real perspective on the level of stupidity stalking the world today. Don’t these people realise when a man can no longer feed his family he not going to sit down and cry?

nutso fasst
August 6, 2011 12:03 am

GregS, let’s see if html entities work here:
Plants ♥ CO₂.
(Plants ♥ CO₂.)

nutso fasst
August 6, 2011 12:26 am

Entities worked, but the display of code didn’t. I’ll try to display coding a different way:
(Plants ♥ CO₂.)

Gary Hladik
August 6, 2011 12:29 am

pat says (August 5, 2011 at 9:59 pm): “Can anyone imagine what that amount of money would do if directed at something useful? Like termite or cockroach control?”
Yer darn tootin’! I say we start with Washington, DC, then Sacramento, then…
Wait, did pat mean six-legged vermin or the two-legged variety? 🙂

August 6, 2011 12:47 am

I hope they strike oil.

August 6, 2011 12:59 am

You know, if the Montanans really want to help our environment, a better application would be to use those wells to sequester the radioactive liquids from the nuclear power plants. If the formation will retain gas, I’m certain it will easily retain a liquid injection.
Save the farmers – free the CO2!

August 6, 2011 1:07 am

If it’s so safe why don’t they put radioactive waste in there rather than CO2?

August 6, 2011 1:08 am

RE: Title
The Big Sky “drill baby drill” project – just another dry hole into which taxpayer money is sequestered
I think ‘money sequestration’ is a good description of ‘CO2 sequestration’ with the understanding that this is sequestration without the possibility of recovery in the first case and without the intention to recover in the second.
At current concentration levels, I believe water vapor is the primary climate control agent in the troposphere–that portion of our lowest atmosphere where cloud forming vertical circulation occurs.

Pete in Cumbria UK
August 6, 2011 1:48 am

[quote]“This grant award demonstrates, once again, MSU’s national competitiveness in the search for energy solutions and our excellence in research and teaching,” said MSU President Waded Cruzado.
This is nothing to do with ‘Climate Change’ or any sort of ‘World Saving’ effort, its just a glorified willy measuring contest.

August 6, 2011 1:50 am

Well, my eyesight must have gotten poorer lately, I read “Big Sky Cartoon Sequestration…” on the footer of the picture. Probably just wishful thinking.
Here is an idea which saves much CO2: Build a windmill on top of the hole and directly couple the drill by gear. Saves the leakage of transforming the energy needed first to electricity and back…

charles nelson
August 6, 2011 1:51 am

that’s 67 dollars a ton to bury something that’s harmless. (One Million tons CO2)
And I’m with Kasuha….if they can find a place safe enough to bury a million tons of GAS (and the Greenies approve) then why don’t we bury the 100,000 tonnes or so of radioactive waste that is the by product of Europe, Japan and the USA’s nuclear industries….that WOULD be Green…but somehow I don’t think they’ll go for it!

August 6, 2011 2:05 am

With all that CO2 pumped down there, what if the Earth burps?
I think they should relocate and drill the hole in the center of Washington DC. Then put every Congressman and Senator down it. Then quickly fill it. The levels of CO2 should drop dramatically.

John Marshall
August 6, 2011 2:30 am

It is this sort of big spend for no reason that has got the US into its $14.3T debt.
Come on Obama, cut the crap and get US industry competitive again. Stop sending jobs to China.

charles nelson
August 6, 2011 2:35 am

August 6, 2011 2:37 am

Are these the ‘green jobs’ we’ve been hearing about?
The Dept. of Labor must have included all the new jobs this rat hole project will create into their most recent estimate of a lower unemployment rate!

Mike M
August 6, 2011 3:44 am

I’ll do the same job for a million bucks, I’ll model it on a computer.

August 6, 2011 4:10 am

That CO2 sequestration and geoengineering are taken seriously is proof that the Western world has gone completely insane.

August 6, 2011 4:18 am

the biggest wank in history

August 6, 2011 4:43 am

So, essentially, in eight years’ time it will be called: Montana the fizzle state.
Since they’ll no doubt end up with a leakage problem, as in water leaking into the porous rock eventually, what will the acid do to the porous rock, I wonder, soundly supported by the buildup of fizzle pressure over time: P H L O P ! There goes Montana. :p

August 6, 2011 5:57 am

Richard111 says: “Thanks for the numbers.”
I think those figures are for carbon (3.67 times less by weight) rather than CO2
So MSU’s $67 million pays for about 270,000 tons of carbon to be sequestered.
So, revised figures for the weight of carbon reservoirs:
limestone 60000000 gigatonnes
sediments 15000000 gigatonnes
Atmosphere 750 gigatonnes
Montana sequestration 0.00027 gigatonne
To remove 1 gigatonne of carbon using the Montana figures would cost $245 billion.
To remove 1% of the carbon in the air (7.5 gigatonnes) would cost nearly $2 trillion.

Mike M
August 6, 2011 6:32 am

Instead of burying CO2 why not just smash the carbon together to make magnesium? It will cost enormously more money and time just to research which is both safer for the rent seekers who really aren’t responsible enough to be allowed to play with drills as well as one more program for the government to perpetually siphon taxpayer money.

Ed Caryl
August 6, 2011 6:36 am

Prediction: This project will be wildly successful. Like all government projects, it will go over budget, and they will succeed in pushing a borrowed $100,000,000 down a dry hole.

Henry chance
August 6, 2011 7:13 am

For $67 million, they could make a lot of dry ice to send to Texas. Seed clouds etc.
Of course the Texas aggies understand the laws of thermodynamics and would laugh at this.

August 6, 2011 7:28 am

@nutso fasst
Thanks for your help re: HTML – much appreciated.

August 6, 2011 7:42 am

I can see the headline “Natural CO2 sink released into the atmosphere as well leaks” Sounds like drilling to a place that already naturally stores CO2 puts a nice hole into the impermeable rock creates an ironic opportunity..
Not much to say about this absurd idea. An ironic outcome would be entertaining though.

August 6, 2011 8:10 am

To remove 1% of the carbon in the air (7.5 gigatonnes) would cost nearly $2 trillion.

And money well spent, if it can delay the inevitable heat death of the Earth by 33 seconds.

Karl Koehler
August 6, 2011 8:23 am

There are numerous projects of this nature underway throughout the country and the world for that matter. Ditto one in northwest Colorado that I’m aware of. At this point the objectives of this work are to determine the viability of long term storage in geologic strata and to quantify it. This is certainly not an effort to meaningfully impact CO2 emissions in any way shape or form at this time. If this step proves viable, the next (and more daunting) challenge will involve capture; how to capture CO2 from smokestack emission streams? It’s all part of an effort I think to keep coal (politically) viable as an energy source and to that extent I say more power to them. Nothing frustrates a rabid environmentalist (or EPA bureaucrat) more than having a baseless challenge answered by technology. In the end, coal fired power may well still trump renewables on a cost basis and will continue make much more sense in terms of scalability. Renewables (as we know them today) simply are not capable of providing the energy quantities our society needs to function. Sad (if you’re an environmentalist) but inarguabley true.
Another aspect of this I find intriguing though is it provides evidence of the investments companies and governments already have on the table with regard to CO2 regulation and with their desire to protect those investments – can’t blame them for this. There is a significant amount of inertia behind the prevailiing global warming-climate change-climate disruption theory supported by the big dollars that have already been positioned to take advantage. Combine that with the old business axiom, “The customer is always right” and even when the customer is wrong (i.e. the threat of anthropogenic climate change is completely overblown), you have businesses willing and working to give them what they want. Snake oil anyone?

nutso fasst
August 6, 2011 8:28 am

Doug in Seattle: “Didn’t the Canadians try something quite similar in Saskatchewan?”
The test well in Weyburn, Saskatchewan is reportedly responsible for turning a farm pond into a vat of club soda, killing small animals and driving a family off their property. It’s a scary story, since, after the family commissioned a survey that concluded leaking CO₂ was the culprit, overseers of the project released another study refuting the result. (More on that here.)
Apparently there are billion$ of tax dollars being spent on carbon capture and storage, and oil and coal companies are the primary promoters. They’re being subsidized to do what they do anyway.

August 6, 2011 8:50 am

my God,
Aren’t you Americans in enough trouble as it is?! What with your multi-trillion dollar depts and deficits – , double digit unemployment – when are you gonna wake up and face reality!
How can you afford such non-sense as carbon sequestering?!
A concerned Canadian.
ps: We got great news this week from our government – big layoffs at Environnement Canada including a bunch of climatologists – finally!

August 6, 2011 8:52 am

I’m working on a cootie sequestration project, and as soon as I have my grant money, there will be no more cooties.

Ron Williams
August 6, 2011 10:05 am

I have to say I am embarrassed to admit that my engineering degree is from MSU. The engineering department used to have some level of sanity. I learned there 40 years ago the fallacy of ethanol alcohol fuels. It looks like they now they drink the kool aid.

Person of Choler
August 6, 2011 10:11 am

Cementafriend, August 5, 2011 at 10:28 pm, wonders, “What about sacking everyone that earns more than $100,000 at the EPA,”
This is unlikely to work: government employees are not sackable. But remember, the economic damage is not caused by the salaries of these folks, it is caused by the wacky regulations they dream up and force on us. A way to solve the problem is (1) disband the agency while (2) continuing to pay the salaries and benefits of the current employees until retirement age on the condition that they never enter government or NGO, or environmental lobbyist employment again.
The pressure of the bureaucrats to continue their economy-busting employment would vanish in the face of an offer of a lifetime of labor-free ease, Any labor union that would try to block this would be quickly decertified by angry members.
Yes, the taxpayers would squawk at the workless wages, but they are paying freight on these folks now and getting their economy wrecked besides.

August 6, 2011 11:58 am

Just to add some clarity, the Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership is one of seven that cover all of the US, except for the Northeast (which does not want coal power under any circumstances). They are research projects only, no one thinks they will have any immediate impact on the level of CO2 at this stage. They were started by NETL, the energy research arm of DOE back when it looked like Waxman-Markey (or some similar GHG regulation) would become law. Now they are just trolling along on autopilot, hoping that America will someday wake up and legislate a need for this technology. And as far as the +$67 million goes, it is a drop in the bucket when compared to the real costs of implementing CCS. If nothing else, it helps to show the limitations of what CCS can do. Politicians seem to think they can wave a magic law and decree that the technology they want will immediately appear at low cost. They do not seem to realize this is not a trace emission, a not so big 600 MW coal boiler can emit almost 15,000 tons of CO2 in just one day. My former boss used to say CCS will actually never be used because it was just too crazy.

August 6, 2011 1:26 pm

Question: How many millions of pounds of CO2 is put into the atmosphere by designing, manufacturing, erecting, operating, maintaining and decommissioning a CSS project, the purpose of which is to put CO2 into the ground?
What is the CO2stored/CO2produced ratio? If it is < 1, it is unsustainable.

August 6, 2011 5:23 pm

Why not pump it into Sheep Mountain or Bravo Dome where CO2 occurs naturally and has been produced for enhanced oil recovery for many years? This seems like a waste of money to duplicate what already has been prove viable.

Brian H
August 6, 2011 5:37 pm

I ♥ my carbon footprint.

August 6, 2011 6:22 pm

At Hanford in southeastern Washington State, over $50 billion will be spent on digging up nuclear waste buried in a relatively dry arid region for fear of ground water eventually carrying it to the Columbia River, and move it to …where…? The Yucca Mountain nuclear repository project is being shut down. Maybe they could ship the nuclear waste from Hanford to this big hole in Montana. Yeah, the “Big Sky Country” becomes the “Big Hole Country!”

Michael Klein
August 6, 2011 8:09 pm

I can only applaud the people of the State of Montana for their courage. Keep up the good work!
To all those people who say otherwise, would you rather see that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? Havng it in the ground is much better.
Of course, the best thing of all would be to eliminate the burning of fossil fuels altogether.

August 6, 2011 8:23 pm

Michael Klein says:
“To all those people who say otherwise, would you rather see that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?”
Yes. More is better, alarmist propaganda to the contrary.

August 7, 2011 12:44 am

Michael Klein;
Of course, the best thing of all would be to eliminate the burning of fossil fuels altogether.>>>
Let’s see if that holds up to a little bit of thought.
What was man’s first big technological leap that separated us in no uncertain terms from the animals? Changed us from a species on the edge of survival to a species able to guide our own destiny?
Answer: Fire.
The second big leap?
The wheel.
After that, you could get quite the debate as to what the third one would be. Electricity? Internal combustion engine? Plastic? Steel? Airplanes?
Do you know what you need to make all those things?
Answer: Fire.
Ya gotta burn something or go back to living in caves and fending off bears with a stick. Not only is the climate catastrophe from CO2 fear mongering, the solution proposed by you above would sentence 99% of the world’s population to death. What you got against people anyway?

August 7, 2011 12:57 am

Not exactly on topic….but if we’re discussing the total lunacy regarding wasted tax dollars and the effect on the economy, then check out this article from CNN Money on the down grade of the United States’ credit rating to AA+ from AAA. The countries left in the world with a AAA rating are shown in blue.
Looks like Alaska has secretly left the union and become a Canadian province.

Mike M
August 7, 2011 2:45 am

oeman50: And as far as the +$67 million goes, it is a drop in the bucket when compared to the real costs of implementing CCS.

But like all of this nonsense, once they get their foot in the door they’ll find ways to justify expanding the amount every year. I’d surmise that the initial budget allocations for studying CAGW in general also started out as ‘small’ ~25 years ago (?) but like every other government program it will grow like bacteria in a petri dish if it offers its enablers a political advantage at the ballot box. CAGW sure did and the infection is now spreading out of control.

August 7, 2011 10:39 am

I grew up in N Montana, got a degree in Geology from MSU, and my sister and family live in Shelby. I am so embarrassed that this project is ocurring!

Doug Proctor
August 7, 2011 2:56 pm

Why would you put CO2 into a big hole at great cost when you could inject it into a gillion oil pools and get an enhanced recovery? Charge up reservoirs for a year or two, move onto the next. Wait for the CO2 to settle in and produce the oil, while recycling the CO2.
Jeez. Is there something about making money from “disposing” of CO2, a moral issue that involves profit from “pollution”?
Right: we’re supposed to be not using fossil fuels anymore, except for the energy we need to gather, transport and bury that nasty molecule with horrible carbon in it.

August 7, 2011 5:47 pm

Michael Klein says:
August 6, 2011 at 8:09 pm
“I can only applaud the people of the State of Montana for their courage.”
I wouldn’t call it ‘courage’ exactly. If you re-read the article, I think they were given 67 million reasons to give it a go. Courage had nothing to do with it.

R. Ed Neck
August 8, 2011 7:16 am

“Safety is a priority for the team. The project will exceed standard commercial practices to minimize all health, safety and environmental risks. The CO2, geology, water, soil, air, and infrastructure will be extensively monitored by systems placed both above and below ground at the site.”
Well, considering they are drilling for nothing, will not experience overpressured zones, and are doing nothing in general, well, I guess their safety program will be a great success. But as near as I can tell, nothing else in the project will be a success.
God, my alma mater is embarrassing sometimes. This is a crack pot scheme that will not create any jobs, opportunities or growth for anyone other than the few that are in on the “ground” floor done under the guise of science. But hey, they have tenure!

Terry W
August 8, 2011 7:54 am

As stupid as stupid gets. All those involved in this needs to have a tube connected to their faces and let then exhale down the hole. They are obviously breathing out really really bad CO2.

August 8, 2011 9:55 am

I can understand all of the negative comment, but this would be extraordinary as a statistical project! If you can actually sequester enough CO2 (long shot, but let’s pretend for now) you can run models over time that actually demonstrate if CO2 effects temperature or not. I do love a good panel design!

August 8, 2011 10:07 am

I could see many problems with this. What if the CO2 acts as a lubricant allowing shear layers to slip and causing earthquakes. I know there aren’t MANY people in Montana, but flattened houses are still dangerous. /only partly sarc

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