By Miranda Green
April 7, 2019 - A bipartisan group of senators is pushing for funding at the "highest possible levels" for carbon capture technology development.
The 12 lawmakers, including four Republicans, urged Senate appropriators to provide the Department of Energy with maximum funding for carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS).
“As the world transitions towards a carbon constrained economy, investment in CCUS technology will spur economic development and ensure energy security while protecting the environment from carbon dioxide emissions and maintaining global leadership role in research and development,” the lawmakers wrote Thursday in letter to the top senators on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development.
The letter was signed by Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).
They argued that investment in creating viable options to capture carbon emissions released into the atmosphere could spur U.S. job growth.
“According to the International Energy Agency and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), CCUS is a critical component of the portfolio of energy technologies needed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions worldwide,” the senators wrote. “As the U.S. develops CCUS technologies, we will benefit not only from cleaner power here at home, but from new markets for U.S. technologies abroad, including innovations towards direct air capture.”
The two federal programs that include carbon capture research received $101 million and $98 million in funding, respectively, for fiscal year 2019. President Trump's budget request for 2020 calls for combining the two programs into one, funded at $69 million.
The senators said in their letter that the two programs should not be combined.
Carbon capture technology investment has emerged as a rare bipartisan issue when it comes to climate change. While GOP senators have long resisted efforts by progressives to transition the country away from fossil fuels, some have embraced the idea of carbon capture as an alternative.
Congress last year passed legislation that expanded carbon sequestration tax credits to companies.
The technology, however, remains in its early stages and hasn't been widely adopted, due in large part to its implementation cost. That's why lawmakers are calling for more federal funding.
“Like the wind and solar industries, a combination of federal incentives such as tax credits and federal funding for research, development and demonstration, will be needed to improve the technology so that it can be cost-competitive with other forms of low CO2 emitting technologies,” the 12 senators wrote, adding that the U.S. “is in a position to be a global leader” on carbon capture technology.