I became Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee after serving on the committee for the past eight years. Over the last eight months, we have held 26 full committee hearings and heard from a wide array of subject matter experts including the former Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, West Virginia business owners and Dr. Brian Anderson, the director of the National Energy and Technology Laboratory. Each hearing offered a unique perspective on the energy challenges facing our country both today and in the years to come.
The energy experts who have come before our Committee have been clear — fossil fuels are projected to be part of the global generation mix at least through 2040, and the United States needs to lead in technological innovations designed to reduce carbon emissions.
At a hearing earlier this year, Dr. Fatih Birol of the International Energy Agency testified that carbon capture, utilization and sequestration (CCUS) may be the most critical technology that we can invest in to address the climate crisis.
There is growing bipartisan agreement in Congress about the role CCUS can play in lowering global carbon emissions. At a time when our political parties struggle to agree on anything, this is something worth striving for. But agreeing is not enough. We need to put our money where our mouth is and enact policies that move us forward on the commercialization of these technologies sooner rather than later.
That is why I introduced the Enhancing Fossil Fuel Energy Carbon Technology (EFFECT) Act in April with my friend, Chairman Lisa Murkowski, and a bipartisan group of senators. It is a comprehensive bill that is aimed at enhancing research and development — and just as importantly, demonstration and deployment — for each aspect of CCUS. That includes coal and natural gas technologies, utilization, storage, and even atmospheric CO2 removal. In May, we held a hearing to examine the legislation and in July it was reported out of the Committee.
Specifically, the EFFECT Act would establish four new Department of Energy research and development programs for carbon capture, utilization, storage and removal.
•The Coal and Natural Gas Technology Program would authorize four sub-programs to develop transformational technologies to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, cost and environmental performance of coal and natural gas use.
•The Carbon Storage Validation and Testing Program would conduct research, development and demonstration for carbon storage, including assessing U.S. geological storage formation capacity, developing monitoring tools, researching and potential impacts of a leak, and supporting business model assessments to examine the economic viability of technologies and systems developed under the program.
•The Carbon Utilization Program would identify and assess novel uses for carbon, carbon capture technologies for industrial systems and alternative uses for coal. It would also direct the DOE to work with the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine on a study to assess barriers and opportunities relating to commercializing carbon dioxide.
•The Carbon Removal Program would research technologies and strategies to remove atmospheric carbon dioxide on a large scale, including direct air capture and storage, bioenergy with CCS, afforestation, etc. It would also authorize grants for Direct Air Capture Test Centers and establish an air capture technology competition with a $15 million prize.
The United States should be leading the world in innovative energy technologies that both increase efficiency and reduce the cost of capturing carbon while also being at the forefront of new ways to put captured carbon dioxide good use. Legislation like the EFFECT Act brings us closer to that goal. As Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, I will continue to seek input from our country’s leading researchers and small business owners alike and I will continue working with my colleagues of both parties to ensure the EFFECT Act becomes law.
Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat, is Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.