July 13, 2016

Whitehouse Introduces Carbon Capture and Utilization Bill

Whitehouse Introduces Carbon Capture and Utilization Bill

Washington, D.C. – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and five Senate colleagues introduced today the Carbon Capture and Utilization Act of 2016 to spur investment in next-generation carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technologies.  The bill would provide tax credits for the capture and sequestration of carbon emissions from electricity generation facilities and industrial sources, and for carbon utilization—the conversion of carbon dioxide into useable products and fuels.  As the United States works to reduce the carbon pollution driving climate change, including under international commitments like the Paris Agreement, this bill would spur creative new technologies to reduce emissions across the power and industrial sectors.   

“Preventing the worst of climate change will mean deploying a broad range of technologies to reduce carbon emissions,” said Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.  “This bill would provide a boost for entrepreneurs in Rhode Island and across the country who turn harmful carbon pollution into useful products.  That incentive will spur economic growth and help protect our environment and public health.”

Prior carbon capture bills introduced in Congress have focused on fossil fuel sources, primarily coal electricity generation.  Whitehouse’s legislation is the first to provide credits for carbon utilization which expands our ability to reduce emissions outside of the power sector.  Utilization of carbon dioxide through processes like photosynthesis or chemical conversion also holds the promise of creating products of value which can be sold in the market.  Whitehouse worked closely with carbon capture and utilization companies to incorporate their input into the bill.

“This is a clear signal from Congress that establishes a value for carbon utilization and geological sequester of CO2 emissions.  This legislation will spark private investment into emerging and innovative technologies to capture this value.  Incentives like these are critical to accelerate large scale deployment of low carbon technologies,” said Tim Burns, the founder of bioprocessH2O, a Rhode Island-based company that develops, engineers, and sells carbon utilization and advanced water treatment and reuse systems for industrial clients.

“History has shown that new industries can be propagated when creating value from waste streams.  Examples include converting waste frying oil into biofuels or recycled bottles into furniture and now there will be new opportunities of using waste carbon dioxide in agriculture and other industries.  Senator Whitehouse’s bill will jumpstart new industries and create new jobs while curtailing excessive CO2 emissions,” explains Lawrence Dressler, President of Rhode Island’s Agcore Technologies, LLC, which has patented methods of eliminating carbon dioxide from waste gases that can be infused in water for the production of their high protein algae for both human and animal nutrition.

The Carbon Capture and Utilization Act would make tax credits available to companies based on the amount of carbon dioxide they avoid emitting into the atmosphere through carbon capture or remove from the atmosphere through utilization.  Credits would be worth $35 per ton of carbon captured that use CCUS technology and do utilization and $50 per ton captured using permanent geologic carbon storage—a buddying technology that traps carbon dioxide in subterranean rock formations.  To qualify for credits, CCUS facilities would have to capture minimum quantities of carbon in a given year based on the type of facility.  Credits would be available for 12 years.

“Developing technologies that convert greenhouse gases into useful products can overcome the biggest obstacle to carbon capture: cost. We applaud these Senators for recognizing that by recycling carbon and converting it into valuable products we can offset the cost of carbon capture technologies, minimizing impacts on ratepayers and creating new economic opportunities in rural regions across the country,” said Matt Carr, Executive Director of the Algae Biomass Organization. “We are particularly grateful for the bill’s language allowing smaller projects to qualify for the credit, which will help jump start several innovative algae technology demonstrations.”

Other cosponsors of the bill include Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Jon Tester (D-MT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).


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