Bipartisan group introduces nation’s first comprehensive CO2 infrastructure bill

Infrastructure to support carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology remains underdeveloped in the United States, leaving the country behind in the adoption of a crucial tool in the fight against climate change. To address this issue, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) joined Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.) and U.S. Representatives Marc Veasey (D-Texas) and David McKinley (R-W.Va.) in introducing the Storing CO2 And Lowering Emissions (SCALE) Act. The landmark bill will help develop CCS infrastructure as a critical means of reducing emissions of CO2 – or carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas – while creating regional economic opportunities and jobs.

The SCALE Act is the first comprehensive CO2 infrastructure package to be introduced in Congress. The bill would support the buildout of infrastructure to transport CO2 from the sites of capture to locations where it can be either utilized in manufacturing or sequestered safely and securely underground. Carbon capture will play a critical role in reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, and the availability of CO2 transport infrastructure is necessary to drive investments in carbon capture technologies.

The legislation would also provide critical regional economic opportunities and create thousands of jobs. An analysis released 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.

“It is estimated that the demand for energy across the country could grow nearly 50 percent by the year 2050, making carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technologies as important as ever in the fight against climate change,” said Senator Murkowski. “CCUS will not only help America meet the growing demand for energy, but will also be critical to reducing emissions and supporting a cleaner environment. Through the SCALE Act, we are taking significant steps to construct and develop the critical infrastructure needed for large-scale carbon management. Investment in the expansion of CCUS will play an integral role in our nation’s all-of-the-above energy strategy.”

“Carbon capture, utilization, and storage will play a critical role in meeting mid-century climate goals, supporting high-paying manufacturing jobs, and maintaining American competitiveness, but cost barriers currently stand in the way of its widespread deployment in the United States,” said Senator Coons, co-chair of the Senate Climate Solutions Caucus. “I’m working to advance the SCALE Act to build this crucial infrastructure that will help reduce industrial emissions and create thousands of high-wage jobs. Now is the time to invest in carbon capture, a promising technology with broad support.”

“If the world wants less carbon in the atmosphere while preserving jobs, the answer is sequestering carbon,” said Dr. Cassidy. “There is no better place in the world than Louisiana to sequester carbon. This bill supports that vision of lower carbon and creates jobs in Louisiana.”

“Carbon Capture and the associated infrastructure is essential for the United States to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century,” said Representative Veasey. “If we successfully deploy CO2 transport and storage infrastructure, we can help certain industrial sectors of our economy dramatically reduce their emissions while creating thousands of good jobs.”

“Building out midstream and downstream infrastructure is a key component of supporting the deployment of carbon capture technologies,” said Representative McKinley. “For carbon capture to work, we need to be able to transport it to geologic storage or customers who can use it. Through additional investments proposed in this bill, the U.S. can take significant steps towards reducing its carbon emissions by developing a program that will support the construction of CO2 pipelines across the country and create countless jobs.” 

“Advancing legislation that enables wide-scale deployment of CCUS technologies must continue to be a priority,” said U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. “The SCALE Act does just that by complementing and building on the nearly $6 billion for CCUS research, development, deployment, and commercialization I secured in the Energy Act of 2020. This bill will enhance the entire CCUS value chain by incentivizing the buildout of CO2 pipeline and storage infrastructure, providing a critical link for CO2 sequestration and end-use markets. Measures like these will push our clean energy objectives forward while supporting thousands of clean energy, infrastructure and manufacturing jobs across the country, including in traditional energy producing communities like those in West Virginia.”

How the SCALE Act supports carbon capture: Interconnected CO2 transport systems that collect CO2 from capture sources and deliver it to shared CO2 storage sites are the key backbone infrastructure needed for widespread carbon capture deployment at the necessary scale to achieve economy-wide emissions reductions. Yet, deployment of CO2 infrastructure faces critical cost barriers that require federal support to overcome. Many countries and regions, including the European Union, the UK, Norway, Australia, and Canada, have already committed billions to construct CO2 transport and storage infrastructure to decarbonize heavy industry, and the United States is currently lagging behind. The SCALE Act would provide the federal support needed to kick-start a CO2 transport and storage infrastructure build-out over the next decade to get the United States back on track. This new transport infrastructure will enable CO2 to be transported from the site of capture to locations where it can be used or stored safely underground.

To support carbon capture and job growth, the SCALE Act would:

  • Establish the CO2 Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (CIFIA) program, which will provide flexible, low-interest loans for CO2 transport infrastructure projects and grants for initial excess capacity on new infrastructure to facilitate future growth. Modeled after the existing TIFIA and WIFIA programs for highway and water infrastructure, CIFIA will help facilitate private sector investment in infrastructure critical for reaching net-zero emissions. The bill also includes grants for Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) studies for CO2 transport infrastructure.
  • Build upon the existing Department of Energy (DOE) CarbonSAFE program to provide cost sharing for deployment of commercial-scale saline geologic CO2 storage projects. The program would give priority to larger, commercial saline geologic storage projects that will serve as hubs for storing CO2 from multiple carbon capture facilities.
  • Authorize increased funding to EPA for permitting Class VI CO2 storage wells in saline geologic formations and providing grants for states to establish their own Class VI permitting programs to ensure rigorous and efficient CO2 geologic storage site permitting.
  • Provide grants to state and local governments for procuring CO2 utilization products and support state and local programs that create demand for materials, fuels, and other products made from captured carbon. The bill also adds the objective of developing standards and certifications for products that use CO2 to DOE’s carbon utilization program.

In the Senate, the bill is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). In the House, cosponsors include U.S. Representatives Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), Pete Stauber (R-Minn.), Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.).

“Climate change is real, and it’s damaging to our health, our families and our environment. We know this because that’s what science tells us,” said Senator Smith. “The SCALE Act will help develop the carbon capture and storage infrastructure we will need to capture emissions from steelmaking, biofuels, and other key Minnesota industries. This is an important part of our effort to get to net-zero emissions for the entire economy. I'll be working with my colleagues to move this forward. Our country can lead or we can follow when it comes to fighting climate change. I for one, want us to lead.”

“For more than a decade, North Dakota has been working to crack the code on CCUS technology,” said Senator Hoeven. “That means not only proving that CCUS works in the lab, but also providing the right legal, tax and regulatory environment to support its implementation. Our legislation addresses a key aspect of this effort – building the pipeline infrastructure we need to transport and store captured CO2 emissions in the appropriate geologic formations. This is about investing in new technologies and helping bring them to scale so they will be commercially-viable over the long-term. That’s how we will empower America to continue utilizing all of its abundant energy resources, helping to ensure our national and economic security.”

“Scientists tell us that we likely need to reverse a significant amount of carbon pollution to meet our climate goals.  Right now, we’re a long way from having the infrastructure in place to do that,” said Senator Whitehouse. “Our bipartisan proposal is a roadmap for scaling up the construction of carbon capture infrastructure and building momentum for these technologies while creating jobs in a promising field.”

“This is a commonsense, win-win bill that will help lower carbon emissions and create jobs through the construction of pipelines,” said Senator Capito. “Building infrastructure for carbon capture utilization and storage is critical in promoting deployment of this technology. Partnered with the bipartisan 45Q tax credit I authored and the reforms of the USE IT Act, this bill further advances our carbon capture goals.”

“Illinois is a leader in demonstrating the potential of carbon capture, utilization and storage to help our nation combat the climate crisis, while creating and supporting good jobs in an emerging sector,” said Senator Duckworth. “Our bipartisan SCALE Act seeks to build out the critical infrastructure that will enable us to not only reduce CO2 emissions at industrial sites, but ensure that captured carbon is reused or safely stored.”

“As a Main Street entrepreneur and co-founder of the Climate Solutions Caucus, I understand the need to find real solutions to our address our changing climate without putting Americans out of work,” said Senator Braun. “This bill walks the line between climate-smart practices and protecting American workers by driving private investment into the development of carbon transport and storage infrastructure and creating well-paying jobs as a result.”

“We’re already seeing the impacts of climate change across the country as severe weather events and natural disasters become more and more common,” said Senator Tester. “As we work to combat climate change, carbon capture can play an important role—and it’s high-time we make the investment. I’m proud to support this bill to help build this critical infrastructure to reduce emissions while creating jobs for hardworking Americans.”

The SCALE Act is endorsed by a broad coalition of labor, environmental, and industry stakeholders: Carbon Capture Coalition, Third Way, National Wildlife Federation, Growth Energy, Carbon Engineering, Clean Air Task Force, Occidental, Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, Bipartisan Policy Center Action, Utility Workers Union of America, Carbon Utilization Research Council, Calpine, GE Gas Power, United Steelworkers, North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU), C2ES, Carbon180, The Nature Conservancy, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), and American Conservation Coalition.

“Climate change is happening now, across the globe and right here in Delaware,” said Lori Brennan, Executive Director for The Nature Conservancy in Pennsylvania and Delaware. “Confronted by the prospect of increasing temperatures, more extreme weather events and rising sea levels, it’s clear that a robust mix of climate strategies is needed. Carbon capture, storage and use needs to be part of this conversation, and the SCALE Act will support the infrastructure necessary for safe, effective and environmentally-sound deployment of these technologies. We thank Senator Coons for introducing this legislation.”

"The bipartisan SCALE Act represents a golden opportunity for the creation of desperately needed middle-class sustaining jobs,” said Sean McGarvey, President of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU). “This legislation is the prime example of how Congress, industry, environmental groups, and construction unions can come together to develop needed climate policy while ensuring the creation of middle-class sustaining energy jobs. If our nation is to meet its midcentury climate goals, Congress must pass this legislation to begin the construction of the infrastructure necessary to support the deployment of systems to capture, transport, and store CO2. This essential part of our overall national infrastructure effort provides an immediate opportunity to create union jobs and train the next generation of construction workers. The carbon capture industry is committed to utilizing NABTU’s world-class apprenticeship and training system to provide the workforce to build the carbon capture, transport, and storage infrastructure for our country. We look forward to working with Congress to ensure that the SCALE Act is included in a comprehensive infrastructure package.”

“The IBEW thanks Senators Coons and Cassidy and Representatives Veasey and McKinley for introducing the SCALE Act,” said Lonnie R. Stephenson, President of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). “This legislation will help further the development of carbon capture sequestration and utilization, which are essential for the United States – and the international community – to meet the emission reductions called for by climate scientists. The SCALE Act will focus federal resources towards the transportation and storage of captured carbon, which will help preserve the livelihood of IBEW members who work day and night to maintain the safety and reliability of the electrical and natural gas services that we all rely on.”

“The SCALE Act takes an important step to support expanding critical carbon capture infrastructure,” James Slevin, President, Utility Workers Union of America. “If we’re going to have a shot at meeting the net zero emissions goals set forth by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we need more supportive measures like this. We look forward to working together to advance this important legislation in the House and Senate.”

"BPC Action supports the SCALE Act introduced by Sens. Coons (D-DE) and Cassidy (R-LA) and Reps. Veasey (D-TX) and McKinley (R-WV),” said Michele Stockwell, Executive Director of Bipartisan Policy Center. “The legislation is a solid effort to advance carbon capture, transportation, utilization, and storage. It does a great deal to advance the carbon utilization and carbon storage potential of the United States, through both infrastructure and market support. With the growing scale of the global carbon market, legislation such as the SCALE Act is crucial to ensure the competitiveness of the United States.”

Additional endorsing quotes can be found here. A one pager on the bill is available here. Bill text is available here.


Related Issues: Energy