Senate Democrats push carbon capture tax credits

Senate Democrats push carbon capture tax credits
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Senate Democrats have introduced a bill to bolster carbon capture technology for fossil fuel power plants. 

The bill, released on Wednesday by Sens. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseKavanaugh accuser agrees to testify next week Dem vows to probe 'why the FBI stood down' on Kavanaugh Senate Democrats increase pressure for FBI investigation of Kavanaugh MORE (D-R.I.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampGOP plays defense on ObamaCare’s pre-existing conditions Doug Jones to McConnell: Don't 'plow right through' with Kavanaugh Heitkamp knocks GOP challenger for 'disturbing' comments on Kavanaugh allegations MORE (D-N.D.), would expand a federal research tax credit for carbon capture and sequestration technology at power plants. 

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The technology would see power plants capture the greenhouse gas emissions released by burning fossil fuels and either store them or use them for other purposes, such as oil recovery.

Four other Democrats signed on to the bill, and lawmakers noted broad support for the carbon capture research tax credit among industry groups, companies and environmental organizations. 

“Our bill would help secure a future for this reliable source of power by spurring investment in new technologies that help lower emissions,” Heitkamp said in a statement. 

“Coal powers our homes, drives the economy, and creates good North Dakota jobs — and our bill, as well as many other proposals I’ve pushed for over the past several years, would help secure a viable future for this reliable source of power.”

Democrats have often looked to carbon capture as a way to boost the use of coal as a fuel for electricity generation in the future. Since the process reduces emissions, it’s more attractive to environmentally inclined lawmakers than normal fossil fuel power plants.

That said support for carbon capture tax credits isn't unanimous; several green groups on Wednesday wrote a letter to Congress opposing new credits for carbon capture, especially as a way to expand oil recovery.

But carbon capture has been slow to take off in the United States; there are no operational power plants in the U.S. that use the process, and the only one under construction, in Mississippi, has been marred by delays and cost overruns. 

Even so, the Obama administration has backed carbon capture, most recently saying North American nations should consider utilizing it has a way to hit a continent-wide goal of producing 50 percent of electricity from clean sources by 2025. 

“Preventing the worst of climate change will mean deploying a broad range of technologies to reduce carbon emissions,” Whitehouse said in a statement.

“This bill would provide a boost for entrepreneurs in Rhode Island and across the country who turn harmful carbon pollution into useful products. That incentive will spur economic growth and help protect our environment and public health.”

—This post was updated at 3:22 p.m.