With little fanfare, Beshear, a Democrat from the high-sulfur coalfields of western Kentucky, affixed his signature to Senate Bill 50 and House Bill 259 on March 16 and 15, respectively, after they passed the General Assembly earlier this year.

Of the two measures, S.B. 50 was more controversial because it would give the right of eminent domain to CO2 pipeline developers such as Denbury, allowing them to take private property for their projects. Largely for that reason, consumer and environmental groups opposed the bill, which easily passed both the Republican-controlled Senate and House of Representatives, where Democrats hold a majority.

State Representative Rocky Adkins, the House Majority Floor Leader, termed the bill “a critical piece of legislation for Denbury, and they have communicated to me they could start running their pipeline out of the South and into the western part of Kentucky to start.” Denbury, a Plano, Texas-based independent oil and natural gas company, is evaluating building a 700-mile-long pipeline to transport CO2 from several proposed coal gasification plants in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky to an existing Denbury pipeline near Tinsley, Miss.

H.B. 259, meanwhile, empowers Kentucky to pursue a demonstration project to store CO2 from a project such as Kentucky NewGas, a Peabody Energy/ConocoPhillips joint venture in Muhlenberg County that would produce synthetic natural gas.