A Quarter of the U.S. Senate Comes Together for Bipartisan Support of Carbon Capture Legislation

Last week, a quarter of the U.S. Senate came together in bipartisan fashion to cosponsor legislation that has the potential to spark deployment of critical carbon capture projects that would have important environmental, energy, and economic benefits for the country.

The bill, called the FUTURE Act (which stands for Furthering carbon capture, Utilization, Technology, Underground storage, and Reduced Emissions), would expand and reform a tax credit called 45Q that was established to support large-scale deployment of projects that capture and store carbon dioxide (CO2) underground in saline formations or in depleted oil and gas fields through enhanced oil recovery (a process referred to as CO2-EOR). 

Due to the tax credit structure and dollar amount, 45Q is currently unable to truly drive the level of innovation and cost-reduction required for large-scale deployment of carbon capture projects. As GPI’s Vice President Brad Crabtree described to the Washington Post, “It was a well-intentioned tax credit, but it never worked out as intended.”

While carbon capture has been deployed at commercial scale around the world, there remain major challenges to financing the projects at a level that would achieve needed cost reductions and expanded levels of deployment.

Carbon capture is an important tool to achieve carbon reductions in part because it can be applied to a wide range of industries, including both power plants and industrial facilities such as cement, steel, and ethanol (see a recent guest post on our blog about the opportunities presented by pairing ethanol with carbon capture and CO2-EOR). At the same time, carbon capture projects can also yield economic and national security benefits by increasing domestic oil production through CO2-EOR, which uses the CO2 to access additional oil while storing the CO2 and achieving significant net lifecycle emissions reductions in the process.

Carbon capture garners broad support across the aisle 

The FUTURE Act was introduced by Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), John Barrasso (R-WY), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and 19 other original cosponsors, each expressing support for advancing carbon capture while focusing on different benefits and opportunities that could be realized if the bill is passed. Their statements of support are a testament to the win-win-win opportunity that carbon capture projects present to the country.

As Senator Heitkamp shared with the Washington Post in an interview about the FUTURE Act:

"One thing I've discovered since being here is that with almost every issue you can find that lane everybody can agree on," adding that, "You may not still have the same motivations, but we may be able to find a path forward to actually achieve a result."

Leaders from industry, labor, NGOs, and state government express their support for the legislation

The Senate bill is noteworthy not only because of the number of bipartisan cosponsors, but also because of the broad swath of support from industry, labor, state government, and environmental and energy nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that have come out in support of its passage.

One of the groups supporting the legislation is the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative (NEORI), a diverse coalition of energy, industrial and technology companies, labor unions, and environmental and energy policy organizations co-convened by the Great Plains Institute and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES). In a press release, NEORI hailed the legislation and praised support for the Senate sponsors and cosponsors for their “leadership in introducing this jobs, infrastructure, economic development and emissions reduction legislation.”

As Brad Crabtree stated in the NEORI coalition’s press release:

“Technology innovation is bipartisan: Americans want smart energy solutions such as carbon capture, which is why this legislation enjoys unusually broad support.”

The NEORI press release also includes statements of support for the bill that illustrate the range of sectors and interests in the coalition, including companies such as Great River Energy, Occidental Petroleum, and Cloud Peak Energy; environmental and energy NGOs such as the Clean Air Task Force, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Carbon Removal, and ClearPath Energy; and labor organizations including the Utility Workers Union of America and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers Transportation Division (SMART-TD).

Senator Heitkamp shared the full list of companies, organizations, and state leaders (including governors), that have stated support for the bill on her website here.

The Great Plains Institute looks forward to building on the momentum of this bill introduction and supporting the bipartisan effort to advance carbon capture, a key solution for managing and reducing carbon emissions while growing industries that are integral to a robust U.S. energy system and economy.

Resources on the 45Q bill introduction:

 

Photo credit: Ben Finzel, RENEWPR

You might also like