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Despite scientists’ dire warnings about the catastrophic impacts of climate change, the greenhouse gases that cause it continue to be emitted in substantial amounts. While there is no question that deep, across the board cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are essential, many scientists now agree that simply cutting future emissions will not be enough. It will also be necessary to remove previously-emitted greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. This paper explores one greenhouse gas removal technique – enhanced weathering – which involves spreading finely ground silicate rocks or other materials with similar chemical composition over land or ocean waters. The materials react with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, sequestering it in mineral form (e.g., as limestone) on land or in the oceans. While further study is needed to fully evaluate the risks associated with enhanced weathering, initial research suggests that it could result in the long-term storage of large amounts of carbon dioxide, likely for centuries or millennia.

This paper examines the international and U.S. legal framework for enhanced weathering on land and in ocean waters. The paper identifies international and U.S. federal and state laws that could apply the performance of enhanced weathering projects. Laws applicable to the sourcing of materials for use in such projects are dealt with in a separate (forthcoming) paper by the author.


Environmental Law | Law