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Congress Pitches Bipartisan Effort for Carbon Capture, Storage

(File Photo)

Efforts to aid in the development of carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technologies and infrastructure are underway on both sides of the aisle, U.S. lawmakers announced Wednesday.

This week, a bipartisan effort in the House has garnered the support of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who announced her co-sponsorship of legislation titled the Storing CO2 and Lowering Emissions (SCALE) Act. The bill would essentially support the development of necessary infrastructure to transport CO2 from its points of capture to where it can be either used in manufacturing or sequestered underground.

The SCALE Act directs the U.S. Secretary of Energy to create programs for CO2 capture, transport, utilization, and storage within a year of the Act passing through Congress and becoming law.

The bill builds upon the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) existing CarbonSafe program, providing a means for flexible and low-interest loans for CO2 transportation and infrastructure. The University of Wyoming previously received grant funds under the CarbonSafe program to drill a test well to store CO2 near the Dryfork Station power plant in Gillette (County 17, April 18, 2019) and to complete a geophysical survey (County 17, Sept. 1, 2020).

It would also authorize increased grant funding—totaling approximately $333 million by fiscal year 2025—for related products and programs, according to Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.), another SCALE Act sponsor.

“Coal is a vital resource for Wyoming and for our nation,” Cheney said of her support. “Through technological advancements that (Wyoming) has championed, we know we can continue to expand its use as a clean and reliable tool to power our economy and support families.”

Cheney pledged to continue fighting for the expansion of the technology in ways that benefit energy producers while protecting the continued use of Wyoming’s natural resources.

But pledging support is only the beginning; the deployment of carbon capture technologies requires building out midstream and downstream infrastructure, a key component if CCUS is to work as desired, according to McKinley.

“For carbon capture to work, we need to be able to transport it to geologic storage or customers who can use it,” McKinley said in a statement, adding that the SCALE Act will enable the U.S. to take significant steps towards reducing its carbon imprint through the development of a program to support the construction of CO2 pipelines across the country.

But if the endeavor is successful, it carries with it the prospect of creating thousands of well-paying jobs, McKinley said, a possibility echoed and supported by bill co-sponsors Reps. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) and Marc Veasey (D-Texas).

“Carbon capture and the associated infrastructure is essential for the (U.S.) to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century,” Veasey said in a statement. “If we successfully deploy CO2 transport and storage infrastructure, we can help certain industrial sectors of our economy dramatically reduce their emissions while creating thousands of good jobs.”

Bustos added that the SCALE Act creates the opportunity to advance carbon capture technology and develop infrastructure to create a cleaner environment while at the same time, growing local economies.

“To tackle the climate crisis, we must mobilize the wealth of resources rural America has to offer, while creating good-paying jobs in our communities along the way,” Bustos said in a statement.

In the Senate, a companion version of the SCALE Act was recently introduced by Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) along with several other lawmakers.

Sens. Cynthia Lummis and John Barrasso (both R-WY) were not listed as current cosponsors of the legislation.

Lummis is reportedly working with fellow senators on similar bills to introduce in the Senate, her office said in an email to County 17.

Currently, the U.S. does not have a program or policy catalyzing investments in CO2 transport and storage infrastructure, according to McKinley’s office, this hinders the scale-up of capture, removal, and storage of CO2 emissions.

“Now is the time to invest in carbon capture, a promising technology with broad support,” Coons said in a statement.

The SCALE Act has garnered support of nearly 20 labor, environmental, and industry stakeholders, many of whom over a dozen labor, environmental, and industry stakeholders.

“For more than a decade, North Dakota has been working to crack the code on CCUS technology,” said Sen. Hoeven. “That means not only proving that CCUS works in the lab, but also providing the right legal, tax and regulatory environment to support its implementation. Our legislation addresses a key aspect of this effort – building the pipeline infrastructure we need to transport and store captured CO2 emissions in the appropriate geologic formations.”

“Carbon capture is a key technology for maintaining good manufacturing jobs as the global economy decarbonizing to move towards the industry of the future,” Roxanne Brown, vice president at large of the United Steelworkers, said in a statement.

Leaders of other prominent stakeholders, including the National Wildlife Foundation and the Utility Workers Union of America, issued similar statements.

Read the full text of the bill here.

The full list of U.S. Senators who have co-sponsored the legislation are Tina Smith (D-Minn.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). In the House, cosponsors include U.S. Representatives Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), Pete Stauber (R-Minn.), Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.).