Despite a drop in global carbon emissions in 2020 due to the pandemic, worldwide CO2 emissions are estimated to be around 34 billion tons. (Adobe Stock)

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By Nadia Ramiagan

December 27, 2021   

Tax credits and direct payments to companies that capture and store their carbon emissions underground are a key feature of the climate provisions outlined in President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Build Back Better Act.

State environmental advocates say West Virginia’s economy could stand to gain from emerging carbon capture technology.

Jim Probst, West Virginia state coordinator with the Citizens Climate Lobby, said a price on carbon could sway lawmakers and spur energy companies to jumpstart carbon capture and storage technologies.

“So if West Virginia can find a way to capture carbon from the smokestacks of our coal-fired plants,” said Probst, “that can keep them running and can keep coal miners working. “

Critics, however, argue that carbon-capture technology isn’t developed enough to significantly curb emissions, diverts resources away from renewables, and in some cases can be used to increase oil production.

Research has shown that the Build Back Better Act, in its current iteration, could potentially slash U.S. carbon emissions in half by 2030.

Probst acknowledged that carbon-capture technology comes with a hefty price tag – but he pointed out almost all new technologies are expensive initially.

“Right now it is really expensive, and the incentives will help,” said Probst. “But long-term, the way we see it with Citizen’s Climate Lobby is that putting a price on carbon content of fossil fuels would further incentivize this.”

He said he believes that if energy companies have to pay a fee for the carbon content of their product, such as coal, for example, but can then receive a rebate for capturing that same amount of CO2, the system will further incentivize carbon capture technology.

“And with a price on carbon that is gradually increasing over time,” said Probst, “it once again helps secure the long-term viability of the technology. “

Sen. Joe Manchin – D-W.Va. – continues to oppose the Build Back Better Act, citing concerns over the bill’s cost, national debt, and increasing inflation.

References:  The Build Back Better Framework the White House 2021
The life-or-death race to improve carbon capture Chemical & Engineering News 7/18/21
FACT SHEET: President Biden Sets 2030 Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Target Aimed at Creating Good-Paying Union Jobs and Securing U.S. Leadership on Clean Energy Technologies the White House 4/22/21