US CapitolThe federal government has a window of opportunity to advance clean energy legislation on a scale that could transform the nation’s ability to meet critical emissions reduction goals and lead energy innovation globally. That’s why the Great Plains Institute (GPI) joined a diverse group of 26 other national organizations in urging congressional leaders to prioritize energy and climate technology and innovation legislation this fall. A letter, initiated by the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute, was sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) in early October. It identifies a suite of bipartisan bills that, when taken together, could drastically curb emissions, promote innovative technology, and help bolster the clean energy economy through new and existing careers and products.

Among the signatories are American Chemistry Council, American Conservation Coalition, Carbon Utilization Research Council, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, Clean Air Task Force, ClearPath Action, Edison Electric Institute, National Association of Manufacturers, The Nature Conservancy, and others.

While, as the letter states, not all the organizations may agree on everything outlined in the suite of legislation, we do agree, as do a growing number of Americans, that climate change is a growing risk to our economy and the health of our communities.

Among the bills outlined in the letter, GPI is particularly focused on legislation that will help the US realize the full potential of carbon capture technology to drastically reduce climate-warming carbon emissions.

The Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies (USE IT) Act seeks to foster continued development and deployment of carbon capture by expanding federal support for research, development, and demonstration of carbon use and direct air capture technologies. The USE IT Act provides important support for carbon capture to be applied in industries that can transform captured carbon into high-value products while reducing emissions. The act would also support the buildout of infrastructure required for economywide carbon capture deployment.

The Enhancing Fossil Fuel Energy Carbon Technology (EFFECT) Act would increase funding for carbon capture research and development and direct new federal research efforts to improve CO2 storage and develop technology that would put CO2 to beneficial use.

The Carbon Capture Coalition, convened by GPI, created a first-in-the-nation federal policy blueprint that includes the legislation above as well as a host of other bills that represent an ambitious and comprehensive federal policy agenda that can help achieve the goal of economywide carbon capture deployment. This is our full-court press to ensure we can prevent significant amounts of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere and instead put it to good use or permanently and safely store it underground.

We know clean energy legislation has growing bipartisan support and that Congress can work together to pass and implement these solutions. Indeed, we saw it happen in early 2018 when President Trump signed the federal budget bill, which included a key tax credit for carbon capture. The 45Q tax credit had bipartisan support and provides a foundational policy for increasing the deployment of carbon capture projects in the US. It represents the most significant energy and environmental legislation in recent memory, but the clock is ticking on making full use of it since eligible projects must begin construction within six years of enactment (i.e., before January 1, 2024).

It’s encouraging to see the momentum for legislation that could help us meet urgent emissions reduction goals and serve our long-term economic interests. Much more needs to be done and we will continue to work with our partners to scale up energy solutions that improve our communities, create jobs, and reduce emissions.

You can read the full letter on the website of the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute.

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