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Potential Earth Saver

According to the Star Tribune a partnership of Minnesota corporations and state agencies will see if carbon dioxide can be stored underground North Dakota prairies.

The "Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership" won a federal grant last month that will supply them with $300 million to test if it can pump carbon dioxide deep into the ground. That would not only remove it from the atmosphere, but also free up inaccessible oil and gas deposits, the Star Tribune reported.

The Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership is launching one test that will inject 1 million tons of CO2 annually into a remnant of an ancient sea about 10,000 feet below the North Dakota prairie. Carbon dioxide from a coal-fired power plant near Beulah, N.D., will be compressed into a fluid and pumped into the earth where it will remain, said associate research director John Harju, "in perpetuity." (For comparison, Minnesotans produce about 115 million tons of carbon dioxide every year.) (Star Tribune)

In Minnesota a different program that emphasizes terrestrial sequestration has received funding. Instead of pumping carbon dioxide into the ground terrestrial sequestration would involve the transformation of farmlands to the forests, prairies and wetlands that they used to be. By doing so there would be a greater concentration of land which could retain carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Studies have shown that up to 60 percent of the carbon-holding material in the soils of the Great Plains has been lost to plowing, according to the Star Tribune.