Lawmakers introduce carbon capture, pipeline bills

Source: By Jeremy Dillon, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2019

A leading Democrat in charge of the party’s House election arm introduced legislation yesterday to promote the deployment of carbon dioxide pipelines important for carbon capture technologies.

Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, unveiled her proposal with the goal of including rural America in the fight to tackle climate change.

The legislation comes as a Democratic coalition in the House looks to make siting an oil and natural gas pipeline more difficult through limitations of the use of eminent domain.

Bustos’ bill would establish a low-interest loan program within the Department of Transportation for trunk and feeder lines to enable a robust build-out of the approximately 5,000 miles of existing CO2 networks. The program would have an authorized funding level of $500 million.

“The Rural Green Partnership gives rural America — including families in Northwest and Central Illinois — a seat at the table as we tackle the climate crisis,” Bustos said in a statement.

“This legislation will build on that plan and help mobilize the resources our region has to offer by building out infrastructure to capture carbon and create a cleaner environment,” she said.

Carbon dioxide pipelines have become one of the key policy consideration areas for lawmakers looking to help build out the capture and sequestration industry following last Congress’ successful bid to revamp the tax credit to reward companies trapping and storing CO2 from power and industrial sources.

Unlike other bills promoting CO2 pipelines, the legislation would not touch or streamline the permitting and safety regulatory framework in place.

An additional pipeline network build-out could help move carbon to additional locations for use in geological storage, manufacturing of chemicals, fuels, plastics and more enhanced oil recovery.

“We have an opportunity to capitalize on this potential and create good-paying jobs to grow the local economy,” she said.

Some carbon capture advocates have been skeptical of a pipeline build-out, instead pushing for trapping CO2 near places where it can be used or stored long term.

Limit on eminent domain

As Bustos looks to expand the deployment of CO2 pipelines, a coalition of her own party is looking to make it harder to site pipelines carrying fossil fuels.

Rep. Annie Kuster (D-N.H.) led four other Democrats in introducing a bill to prevent the use of eminent domain to seize conservation land protected by local governments and nonprofits, like land trusts, for the purpose of constructing natural gas pipelines.

“The Protecting Our Conserved Lands Act will give local governments and nonprofits a voice and a seat at the table, enabling them to protect their land from being recklessly sacrificed when a planned natural gas pipeline route crosses through it,” Kuster said in a statement.

Eminent domain has become an increasing focus of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and its Chairman Neil Chatterjee.

Under current law, a pipeline approval from FERC enables the use of the provision to acquire land on the permitted route.

According to a news release summary, the bill “will compel pipeline companies to either negotiate a mutually agreeable solution or redirect their routes to less environmentally-sensitive paths, such as existing rights of way identified for pipeline projects.”