Big Oil Is Lobbying To Make It Way Easier To Capture CO2 Emissions

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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A coalition of oil companies are pushing Congress to streamline the process for receiving tax credits on the amount of carbon emissions their plants prevent from entering the atmosphere.

Carbon capture — the process of capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) waste and transporting it to a storage site where it will not be released into the atmosphere — is a growing new method by fossil fuel plants to mitigate the country’s carbon emissions and combat climate change. President Donald Trump signed a spending bill in February that included expanded tax incentives for companies making use of carbon capture technology. The new law has already been successful at promoting coal plants and other fossil fuel companies in reducing their carbon footprint. Beyond tax incentives, companies are even able to use captured CO2 to extract additional reserves from the ground.

A bloc of energy companies formed a lobby group in April to push U.S. lawmakers into simplifying the process to receive the tax credit. Named the Energy Advance Center, the coalition is made up of: Chevron, Southern Company, BP, ExxonMobil, Denbury Resources and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America.

More specifically, the group wants companies to receive the tax credit without having to submit a monitoring plan to the Environmental Protection Agency, arguing the mandate is unnecessary because the carbon is stored following oil extraction. Also, companies point out that the expanded tax credit is unattainable at many oil fields where it could potentially violate private property rights.

“The Center is a voluntary association of energy companies, industrial energy users, and other energy-related entities formed to promote the energy industry’s interests in issues related to carbon capture and storage, to improve the greenhouse gas emissions profile of fossil fuels, and to enhance the economic opportunities from use of CO2 with benefits for the economy, energy security, and the environment,” said Fred Eames in an April 24 statement to Axios. Eames is a partner at Hunton Andrews Kurth, the lobbying firm representing Energy Advance Center.

The coalition is supporting legislation that would slash mandates to monitor carbon when using it to extract oil. Republican Sen. John Hoeven and Republican Rep. Kevin Kramer, both of North Dakota, have introduced bills in their respective chambers that would loosen the requirements. (RELATED: New York To Issue Its Own Global Warming Rules For Power Plants)

Beyond Washington, D.C., state governments across the country are considering various ways to implement carbon capture to reduce their emission levels — either through incentives or regulation. New York, for example, has proposed enforcing greater emission reductions, a move meant to shutter the state’s remaining coal plants that cannot afford to invest in carbon capture technology.

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