Bill aims to create tax credits for carbon utilization, storage

By Erin Voegele | July 20, 2016

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., recently introduced the Carbon Capture and Utilization Act of 2016, which aims to spur investment in next-generation carbon capture, utilization and storage technologies.

According to information released by Whitehouse’s office, the bill would provide tax credits for the capture and sequestration of carbon emissions from electricity generation facilities and industrial sources, and for carbon utilization, which is the conversion of carbon dioxide into useable products and fuels.

“Preventing the worst of climate change will mean deploying a broad range of technologies to reduce carbon emissions,” said Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.  “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.”

While prior carbon capture bills have focused on fossil fuel sources, primarily coal electricity generation, Whitehouse’s legislation also provides credits for the utilization of carbon dioxide through processes like photosynthesis or chemical conversion.

According to a statement released by Whitehouse’s office, the legislation would make tax credits available to companies based on the amount of carbon dioxide they avoid emitting into the atmosphere through carbon capture or remove from the atmosphere through utilization. Credits would be worth $35 per ton of carbon captured that it utilized, and $50 per tons for carbon captured using permanent geologic storage. To qualify for credits, facilities would have to capture minimum quantities of carbon in a given year based on the type of facility. Credits would be available for 12 years.

The bill has been cosponsored by Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D; Jon Tester, D-Mont.; Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii; Tim Kaine, D-Va.; an Cory Booker, D-N.J.

The Algae Biomass Organization has spoken out in support of the measure.  “Developing technologies that convert greenhouse gases into useful products can overcome the biggest obstacle to carbon capture: cost. We applaud these Senators for recognizing that by recycling carbon and converting it into valuable products we can offset the cost of carbon capture technologies, minimizing impacts on ratepayers and creating new economic opportunities in rural regions across the country,” said Matt Carr, executive director of the ABO. “We are particularly grateful for the language advocated by the Algae Biomass Organization that would allow smaller projects to qualify for the credit, which will help jumpstart several innovative algae technology demonstrations.”