Rejecting Myths About CCUS, Supporting a Critical Bipartisan Technology
Posted February 18, 2022
News: A few members of Congress took unwarranted shots at carbon capture, use, and storage (CCUS) technologies at a recent U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on pledges by several API member companies to directly address the risks posed by climate change.
Here is a snapshot of how CCUS works:
- Carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted from industrial processes or fossil fuel combustion is separated from other gases and processed into a supercritical fluid to enable safe transport.
- From there it is brought to a safe location where it is stored more than 1 kilometer underground, in geologic formations that have been specifically identified to be suitable for permanent storage.
- These technologies are helping industries reduce carbon emissions while continuing to meet a range of needs across America.
Background: As we pointed out in a blog post last year, CCUS is a rarity in Washington: a technology that unites just about everyone – Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike.
- Not only is there strong support for CCUS across many industries, labor organizations and conservation groups, but members of Congress from both parties and both chambers made sure to include CCUS provisions in the recently enacted bipartisan infrastructure law.
- President Joe Biden considers CCUS integral to his blueprint for addressing climate change and recently hailed the “engineers who will design new carbon capture systems, and the construction workers who will make them a reality” at the COP26 climate summit in Scotland.
- As directed by the bipartisan Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies (USE IT) Act, President Biden’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued interim guidance just this week to assist federal agencies as they review CCUS projects and to support the efficient, orderly, and responsible development of CCUS infrastructure.
- CEQ notes that “to reach the President’s ambitious domestic climate goal of net-zero emissions economy-wide by 2050, the United States will likely have to capture, transport, and permanently sequester significant quantities of carbon dioxide.”
- The White House CEQ also notes that CCUS can reduce emissions other than carbon dioxide, protect communities from increases in cumulative pollution, and support jobs across the country.
Industry Support: Last year, API identified CCUS technology in its Climate Action Framework as key to addressing the dual challenge of reducing emissions during a time we need to increase energy supply for a growing world population. API President and CEO Mike Sommers reinforced support for CCUS during last month’s State of the American Energy, saying U.S. natural gas and oil producers have the expertise to make a lower-carbon future a reality, and that they are working to bring CCUS to commercial scale.
Misguided Opposition: Despite a settled, bipartisan and growing consensus, some DC policymakers, such as Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), used the Oversight and Reform hearing to dismiss the technology as unproven.
Below are three myth/facts about CCUS that policymakers should consider.
“There is no evidence CCUS works.”
- A “mythical” status for CCUS technology will be breaking news to the dozens of commercial-scale, operational CCUS facilities and pilot programs underway in the U.S. and worldwide.
- Scaling-up CCUS in a robust way is a priority of API and the Biden Administration.
- The U.S. is already the world’s leader in deploying the technology.
“CCUS is a false promise benefiting only Big Oil.”
- CCUS has very broad application for capturing CO2 and is not limited to the use of natural gas and oil. Industries with unavoidable process-related CO2 emissions and energy-intensive industries like manufacturing, steel, cement-making and many others have need to capture emissions, too.
- In addition to being permanently and safely stored underground, captured CO2 can be used to create numerous beneficial, non-energy-related products.
- Ryan Edwards of Occidental’s Low Carbon Ventures notes: “The versatility of carbon capture is one of its great points. It's a really broad family of applications and technologies.”
“CCUS is just a Big Oil tactic to delay and distract from having to end fossil fuel development.”
- For many DC policymakers, the only meaningful climate solutions are ones that involve ending natural gas and oil development – despite the dire consequences this would have on modern existence.
- But the International Energy Agency has said that, even with every nation abiding by the commitments of the Paris Agreement, nearly half of world energy consumption will be derived from the use of hydrocarbons in 2040.
- The only serious question for DC policymakers is where those hydrocarbons are extracted and processed. Many foreign producers simply do not have the high environmental and regulatory standards as U.S. producers, and, as we know from today’s headlines, much of the foreign production is from unreliable and exploitative suppliers.
- America, on the other hand, is already the world leader in reducing emissions and is already building the needed infrastructure and technologies – like CCUS – that are and will continue leading to a lower-carbon future.
Check out API’s Climate Action Framework to learn more about how our industry is meeting the world’s growing need for energy while simultaneously ushering in a lower-carbon future.
About The Author
Lem Smith is API’s vice president for Federal Relations. Lem joined API in February 2020 as vice president for Upstream Policy & Industry Operations. He previously served as a principal at Squire Patton Boggs, an international law and public-policy firm, where he advised private and public sector clients on federal and multi-state policy matters and provided counsel on communications strategies, campaign affairs and crises management. Previously, Lem was director, U.S. Government & Regulatory Affairs at Encana, and responsible for all aspects of U.S. government relations and regulatory policy matters at the state and federal levels. Prior to that, Lem was director of Government Relations for Kerr-McGee Corporation. Lem began his career on Capitol Hill, working for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, U.S. Rep. Roger Wicker (Mississippi) and the late U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood (Georgia), where he negotiated key member priorities within the 2005 Energy Policy Act (EPAct). Lem is a graduate of the University of Mississippi.