Carbon capture legislation hits snag

Source: By Geof Koss and Jeremy Dillon, E&E News reporters • Posted: Tuesday, September 24, 2019


A bipartisan Senate bill that would boost carbon capture technology is meeting opposition in conference talks with the House over the National Defense Authorization Act.

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) has registered his opposition to including the “Utilizing Significant Emissions With Innovative Technologies Act,” S. 383, in the NDAA, according to multiple sources.

A Pallone spokesman did not respond to a request for comment, but a House Democratic aide said the Energy chairman is “a pretty firm no.”

Other House Democrats also have substantive and procedural concerns regarding the bill, including why it needs to be included in the NDAA when it hasn’t passed the House.

Pallone’s reported opposition comes as he has vowed to form a policy proposal on the Energy and Commerce Committee that would achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

His Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change heard from experts last week about the importance of the bill. They widely endorsed it as a key policy lever to help deploy additional carbon capture and help reduce emissions from the industrial sector (E&E Daily, Sept. 19).

Republican ranking member Greg Walden (R-Ore.) voiced support for the bill during the same hearing as one example of bipartisan action the committee could take to address climate change.

Pallone himself advocated that it would take multiple policy proposals to attack emissions stemming from the industrial sector.

Crafted as a follow-up to last Congress’ bipartisan success of expanding the 45Q tax credit for carbon capture and storage, the legislation invokes much of the same coalition in support of carbon capture from years’ past, led by Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and climate hawk Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

The bill would tinker with the tax credit from last year in order to better unleash it, advocates say.

It would also streamline the permitting process for carbon dioxide pipelines to enable a build-out to carry carbon from industrial sources — where it is captured — to areas where it can be used for manufacturing or enhanced oil recovery.

The legislation would also provide a jolt to the direct air capture industry through the authorization of some $35 million to form a direct air capture advisory board at EPA and offer prize money for direct air capture design and demonstration projects.

That technology has widely been accepted — most recently in the United Nations report on climate change from late last year — as critical to the effort to maintain temperature rise at the 1.5-degree Celsius threshold at the heart of the Paris climate agreement.