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DOE Publishes Best Practices Manual for Public Outreach and Education for Carbon Storage Projects

January 13, 2010 - 12:00pm


Washington, DC - The U.S. Department of Energy's Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships program has released a new manual to recommend best practices for public outreach and education for carbon dioxide (CO2) storage projects. The recommendations are based on lessons learned by the Department's seven Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships during the first six years of the partnerships program.

The new publication, titled Best Practices for Public Outreach and Education for Carbon Storage Projects, is intended to assist project developers in understanding and applying best outreach practices for siting and operating CO2 storage projects. The manual provides practical, experience-based guidance on designing and conducting effective public outreach activities.

The Office of Fossil Energy launched the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships program in 2003 to develop and validate carbon capture and storage technologies as part of a national strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate global climate change. Seven regional partnerships form the centerpiece of national efforts to develop the infrastructure and knowledge base needed to place carbon capture and storage technologies on the path to commercialization. Each of the partnerships works with local organizations and citizens who contribute expertise, experience, and perspectives that represent the concerns and desires of a given region.

The partnerships recognize that carbon storage projects take place in a social setting. The best practices highlighted in the new manual take into account the social context within which projects are deployed. They add a valuable perspective by addressing the critical social implications of implementing CO2 storage projects across a variety of U.S. geologic and cultural settings.

To date, nearly two dozen CO2 storage field verification tests nationwide are in progress or have been completed by the partnerships. These early projects have been highly visible, and their success will likely impact future carbon storage projects, such as the large-scale CO2 storage projects the partnerships are now initiating in their respective regions.

The primary lesson learned from the partnerships' experience is that public outreach should be an integrated component of project management. Conducting effective public outreach will not necessarily ensure project success, but underestimating its importance can contribute to significant delays, increased costs, and lack of community acceptance. Outreach is not simply an add-on activity-- it is integral to implementation of the project.

In addition to the finding that public outreach should be an integral component of project management, the manual outlines an additional nine best practices. In combination, these ten practices represent a framework for designing an outreach program that is tailored to the specific characteristics of a planned project, the project developers, and the community in which the project is planned.

The seven regional partnerships include more than 350 organizations, spanning 43 states and four Canadian provinces. Collectively, the partnerships represent regions encompassing 97 percent of coal-fired CO2 emissions, 97 percent of industrial CO2 emissions, 96 percent of the total land mass, and essentially all the geologic sequestration sites in the United States potentially available for carbon storage.