- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 1, 2014

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - During a visit to Western Michigan University, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley signed legislation Tuesday aimed at encouraging a type of oil drilling that uses carbon dioxide.

The new laws lower taxes for drilling projects involving carbon dioxide, a process that has divided environmental groups. The technique involves using carbon dioxide to push oil from wells that otherwise is unrecoverable.

The new laws also allow oil and gas companies to construct carbon dioxide pipelines and expands their authority to build them on private property.

“By using CO2-enhanced oil recovery, we are able to retrieve oil that was previously considered out of reach by conventional recovery methods,” said Rep. Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton and sponsor of one of the bills. “Not only are we utilizing CO2 to remove this stranded form of energy, but we are also then storing this CO2 underground instead of releasing it into the atmosphere.”

Calley said the legislation is a “wise use” of Michigan’s natural resources that “benefits consumers and our economy.” Calley signed the bill because Gov. Rick Snyder is on a European trade trip.

The Sierra Club’s Michigan chapter said the legislation is bad policy.

“This law hurts taxpayers, landowners, and threatens water supplies while giving taxpayer handouts to the oil and gas industry,” said Mike Berkowitz, the group’s legislative director. “Michiganders deserve better from Gov. Snyder and the Michigan Legislature than this harmful law.”

Mark Schauer, Snyder’s expected Democratic challenger in the November election, said “giving more tax breaks to big oil companies just shows that this administration is out of touch, and has the wrong priorities for Michigan.”

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