In-Depth: Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) introduced this bill to prioritize research and development funding for technology that captures carbon emissions from natural gas:
“Carbon capture technology has huge potential to dramatically reduce our emissions. Our very own Net Power Plant, in La Porte, Texas employs this technology and has achieved zero emissions while burning enough natural gas to power 5,000 homes in the Houston area. This is an important step forward for green energy solutions that work towards our goal of lowering global emissions through clean, cheap, and exportable energy.”
House Science, Space and Technology Committee Ranking Member Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK), who is an original cosponsor of this bill, adds:
“Clean, efficient, and affordable natural gas is a critical component of America’s energy portfolio. Modernizing energy production and reducing greenhouse gas emissions requires realistic solutions that don’t prohibit effective fuel sources and inhibit economic growth. This bill will expand early-stage research and development of carbon capture technologies to make natural gas an even cleaner energy source. I’m proud to cosponsor this bipartisan legislation that will help make carbon capture commercially viable and help strengthen and modernize America’s natural gas production.”
Original cosponsor Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) says:
“We need an economically sensible solution to reducing greenhouse emissions and fighting climate change in the United States. Carbon capture has been shown to be the best way to properly mitigate the effects of climate change, create more reliable, affordable energy, and increase economic growth. To obtain the full benefits of carbon capture, this legislation will encourage more investment and research so we can accelerate the development and commercialization of the cost-effective carbon capture technologies. I want to thank Representatives Crenshaw, Lucas, Flores, Lamb, Gonzalez and Walberg for working to tackle climate change in the United States.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who is this bill’s Senate sponsor, says:
“The U.S. leads the world in emissions reduction, but to build on that success, we need to incentivize innovation and partner with the private sector to create affordable solutions. Instead of a one-size-fits-all mandate that would bankrupt our country, this bill encourages the continued use of natural gas so we can protect the environment and remain a global leader in energy innovation.”
In floor remarks after the Senate version of this bill passed the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Sen. Cornyn said:
“Smart policies can't prioritize only conservation, productivity, or economic power. We obviously need to strike the proper balance. To put it another way, the Green New Deal will bankrupt our country and crush our innovation economy. This bill would incentivize research and development of carbon capture technology for natural gas and support energy innovation. This legislation was crafted with the understanding that reliable, affordable, and environmentally-sound energy supplies are not mutually exclusive. The goal of this legislation is to accelerate development and commercial application of natural gas carbon capture technologies. I’m proud that the LEADING Act passed the Energy and Natural Resources Committee this morning, and I hope we'll have the opportunity to vote on this and other similar and related bills before the full Senate soon.”
Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), who is an original Senate cosponsor of this legislation, supports it as “critical to near-term reductions of emissions from our electricity and industrial sectors."
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute endorses this bill. In a July 15, 2019 post on its “Fuel for Thought” blog, it writes:
“The conventional wisdom has been that there was simply no appetite in Congress this year to take meaningful, effective steps to address climate change. It’s argued that the issue is not a priority for the Trump Administration, and there has seemingly been far too much division on Capitol Hill for Republicans and Democrats to work together on this important issue. But the conventional wisdom may be once again wrong, and we aren’t surprised. We have always believed there is much common ground on which all sides of the discussion could come together to address climate change with policies that are practical, flexible, predictable, and durable. Throughout the year, we’ve been working with members of Congress, publicly and privately, to identify practical solutions… [O]ur team at the Chamber has been working with diverse coalitions to urge Congress to prioritize a number of clean energy programs, outlined specific, solutions-focused legislation that we support… This week, the Senate Energy Committee will consider a package of bills that will help the Department of Energy (DOE) take the next step to make American energy cleaner and stronger. We are pleased to endorse bills such as the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (NELA, S.903), which will facilitate the next generation of clean and safe nuclear energy resources, and the Launching Energy Advancement and Development through Innovations for Natural Gas Act (LEADING Act, S.1685) which will accelerate DOE’s development of promising carbon capture technology for natural gas power plants… Bolstering industry’s phenomenal progress producing more economic output while using less energy has long been a Chamber priority.”
This legislation has 14 bipartisan House cosponsors, including 11 Republicans and three Democrats. Its Senate version, sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), passed the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources with an amendment and the support of four bipartisan Senate cosponsors, including two Democrats and two Republicans.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports this bill. In testimony to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy on July 9, 2019, Office of Electricity Assistant Secretary Bruce J. Walker expressed support for this bill.
Of Note: Natural gas is now the main source of energy in the U.S., generating 35.1% of the country’s electricity in 2018. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects natural gas to continue comprising a larger percentage of the United States’ energy generation in future years.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen sulphide (H2S) are removed from natural gas before it can be transported or used. After extraction, CO2 can be removed and stored for later use. With this in mind, this bill’s sponsors argue that developing cost-effective carbon capture technology for natural gas power plants will help the U.S. continue lowering carbon emissions while creating jobs and supporting domestic energy production and security.
Testifying before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee on energy, Shawn Bennett, deputy assistant secretary for oil and gas, told Sen. Cassidy that the agency has already shifted away from coal-specific carbon capture applications in favor of natural gas applications.
Jeff Bobeck, director of energy policy engagement at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, observes, “At the lab level, [DOE has] been looking at natural gas technologies for years. The bulk of carbon capture technology issues apply to both coal and natural gas." However, Bobeck also notes that “so much money” has been spent on coal-specific carbon capture, “Natural gas-specific carbon capture investments would have a long way to go to catch up."
In a chapter in the textbook 100% Clean, Renewable Energy and Storage for Everything, Stanford civil and environmental engineering professor Mark Z. Jacobson writes that neither coal nor natural gas with carbon capture is particularly good for the environment, as neither is “remotely close to zero carbon.” He notes:
“[Coal or natural gas with carbon capture] reduce only ~10.8% carbon equivalent emissions (CO2e) over a 20-year time frame and ~20% over a 100-year time frame. At the same time, they increase air pollution and land degradation compared with no carbon capture by 25 to 50 percent. The use of the captured CO2 for enhancing oil recovery causes even greater damage. Finally, the cost of installing carbon capture equipment is large… In comparison, wind, water, and solar power substantially address nearly all climate, health, and energy security problems.”
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / ronniechua)