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Introduction of a Bipartisan Scale Act – Landmark CO2 Capture, Transport and Storage Infrastructure Bill

March 17, 2021 Work Area: Carbon Capture

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2021 – A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers led by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Representatives Marc Veasey (D-TX) and David McKinley (R-WV) introduced the SCALE Act (Storing CO2 and Lowering Emissions Act) today, designed to substantially scale-up carbon capture and removal on the road to net-zero emissions by supporting the build-out of CO2 transport infrastructure and the commercialization of geologic CO2 storage. The landmark bill will help develop carbon capture, removal, and storage technologies as critical means of reducing CO2 from heavy industry, power, and from the air, while creating regional economic opportunities and jobs.

“We need to scale up carbon capture if we’re going to reach net-zero emissions, and in order to do that we need to invest in CO2 transport and storage infrastructure. The SCALE Act would spur the investment needed to make our climate goals attainable, while creating high-quality jobs, and providing communities with decarbonization options that fit the needs of their regional economies”, said Lee Beck, CCUS Policy Innovation Director at Clean Air Task Force — a long-time NGO advocate for the development and deployment of carbon capture, removal, and storage technology as an essential weapon in the fight against global warming.

The bill is sponsored in the Senate by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Tina Smith (D-MN), John Hoeven (R-ND), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Mike Braun (R-IN), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Joe Manchin (D-WV), and in the House by Representatives Mark Veasey (D-TX), David McKinley (R-WV), Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Pete Stauber (R-MN), Terri Sewell (D-AL), and Liz Cheney (R-WY).

An analysis released today as part of the Decarb America Project shows that the provisions in the SCALE Act could create approximately 13,000 direct and indirect jobs per year through the 5-year authorization. This figure does not include the additional thousands of jobs created by retrofitting energy-intensive facilities such as cement and steel plants, or by building direct air capture (DAC) plants.

“The SCALE ACT is well aligned with the Biden Administration’s aims to accelerate climate innovation while creating jobs and bringing U.S. policy back in line with global ambition,” Beck said.

To help bring the SCALE Act to life in a highly visual and comprehensive way, CATF has created a new digital hub for public consumption. The hub includes a two-minute video that can also be seen on YouTube that explains the climate challenges we face and how carbon capture, transport and storage can play a critical role in mitigating the global climate crisis.

Beck continued: “With more than 30 carbon capture projects under way in the U.S., the introduction of the SCALE Act sends a powerful signal that policymakers are serious about developing the necessary infrastructure to deploy carbon capture, removal, and storage deployment at the scale needed to meet the climate crisis. If enacted, it could be one of the most impactful infrastructure policies in helping the U.S.  achieve net-zero emissions.  This vital piece of legislation should be part of any infrastructure package taken up by Congress,” said Beck.

The key components in the SCALE Act would:

  1. Establish the CO2 Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (CIFIA) program to finance shared CO2 transport infrastructure. CIFIA will provide flexible, low-interest loans for CO2 transport infrastructure projects and grants for initial excess capacity that will help facilitate private sector investment infrastructure critical for net-zero emissions. The SCALE Act also includes grants for FEED studies for CO2 transport infrastructure.
  2. Provide authorization for cost-sharing grants for the development of commercial-scale geologic CO2 storage projects. The program would give priority to larger geologic storage projects or those that will serve as hubs storing CO2 from multiple carbon capture facilities;
  3. Support the utilization of CO2 emissions through procurement by authorizing the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to provide grants to states and municipalities for procuring carbon utilization products for all kinds of infrastructure projects;
  4. Authorize increased funding to EPA for permitting Class VI CO2 storage wells and provides grants for states to establish their own Class VI permitting programs to ensure rigorous and efficient CO2 geologic storage site permitting.

Major research, including by the National Academies of Sciences, has highlighted building out CO2 transportation and underground storage as a priority action before 2030 to achieve a net-zero U.S. by 2050.

Meanwhile, the U.S.’s global counterparts, including Canada, Norway, the UK, the EU, the Netherlands, and Australia are all implementing policies and committing substantial funding for developing shared CO2 transport and storage infrastructure.

The release of the SCALE Act comes on a raft of positive global announcements relating to CO2 infrastructure, including two CO2 infrastructure project announcements in the US, the Norwegian Parliament’s approval of the Northern Lights Project and the launch of a CO2 storage service company, a raft of carbon capture, removal and storage project applications to the EU Innovation Fund, a UK funding announcement for multiple UK carbon capture clusters, and a funding directive by the German Government to plan cross-border CO2 transport routes.

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