U.S. Senate hearing examines carbon removal technologies

Published on July 30, 2020 by Dave Kovaleski

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The U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing this week on the development of carbon removal technologies in the United States, which have the potential to reduce net emissions levels and slow or reverse climate change.

Carbon removal technologies capture carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere or the ocean through various means.

“Just a few years ago, the concept of carbon removal was really focused on planting trees and forest conservation and wasn’t widely seen as a realistic approach that could be dramatically scaled up,” Committee Chair Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said in her opening statement. “It is now becoming clear that technologies are being developed that can permanently remove carbon dioxide from the air and the oceans and that those technologies are worthy of federal investment. As part of a larger strategy, carbon removal can help offset hard-to-abate sectors and could eventually even help reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.”

Murkowski also discussed a new bill called the Carbon Removal, Efficient Agencies, Technology Expertise (CREATE) Act of 2020, S. 4341, which would establish an executive committee at the National Science and Technology Council to coordinate interagency efforts on carbon removal research and development. Sponsored by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Murkowski is a cosponsor of the bill along with Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

Among the speakers providing testimony at the hearing was Ernest Moniz, president and CEO of the Energy Futures Initiative and former Secretary of the Department of Energy.

“Further innovation is required to advance all pathways for [carbon dioxide removal]. This will require a major, multi-year, multi-agency federal [research, design and, development] initiative to deliver the portfolio,” Moniz said. “The large-scale deployment potential for [carbon dioxide removal] innovation offers significant economic benefits in terms of new industries and new jobs on a global scale.”

Shannon Angielski, executive director of the Carbon Utilization Research Council, said how the nation manages the carbon dioxide produced from the use of fossil fuels will determine if mid-century emissions reductions goals can be cost-effectively achieved.