April 17, 2019

Senators Want More Money For Carbon Capture Research | Bloomberg

A dozen senators from both parties want Congress to set an aggressive timeline in spending legislation for the Energy Department to develop new and improved carbon capture technologies.

The senators are urging their colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to fund Energy Department programs for carbon capture, utilization, and storage technologies at the “highest possible levels” in fiscal year 2020.

The Trump White House, in its fiscal year 2020 budget request, proposes a nearly $200 million cut to the Energy Department’s Office of Fossil Energy Research and Development. 

Those cuts would include zeroing out the office’s CCS and Power Systems program, which conducts research on capture and storage technologies, and sharply reducing by nearly $130 million the office’s carbon capture, utilization, and storage program under the office’s Advanced Coal Energy Systems research, according to the Energy Department’s budget justification.

Carbon capture is “a critical component of the portfolio of energy technologies needed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions worldwide,” the senators, led by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), wrote in a letter to Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Alexander and Feinstein sit atop the Senate Appropriations committee panel that oversees the Energy Department budget.

Carbon capture separates the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from emissions of power plants and other facilities so it can be permanently stored or used, rather than released into the atmosphere, where it accumulates and drives global warming. 

First Letter from Group

The April 5 letter, obtained by Bloomberg Environment, is the first from this bipartisan group of senators, which includes longtime carbon capture advocates Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chair of the Senate environment committee, and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

The senators are urging the inclusion of language alongside any spending bill to direct the Energy Department to set up a comprehensive research and development effort to “solve the carbon sequestration and utilization challenge within ten years.”

The group of senators request “robust funding” for Energy Department programs to develop carbon capture technologies to address emissions from coal, natural gas, and industrial facilities.

Congress passed bipartisan tax credits in February 2018 to boost carbon capture deployment. But the dozen senators say greater research and development to improve the technology and bring down costs in areas like the power sector.

“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 carbon-emitting technologies, they wrote.

Others signing the letter were Michael Bennet (D-Colo.); Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.); Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.); Angus King (I-Maine); Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.); Christopher Coons (D-Del.); Cory Gardner (R-Colo.); and Steve Daines (R-Mont.).


By:  Abby Smith