WASHINGTON — Infrastructure to support carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology remains underdeveloped in the United States, leaving the country behind in the adoption of a crucial tool in the fight against climate change. To address this issue, U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.), co-chairs of the Climate Solutions Caucus, today introduced the Storing CO2 And Lowering Emissions (SCALE) Act. The bill is led by Senators Coons and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), along with U.S. Representatives Marc Veasey (D-Texas) and David McKinley (R-W.Va.). The landmark bill will help develop CCS infrastructure as a critical means of reducing emissions of CO2 – or carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas – while creating regional economic opportunities and jobs.

The SCALE Act is the first comprehensive CO2 infrastructure package to be introduced in Congress. The bill would support the buildout of infrastructure to transport CO2 from the sites of capture to locations where it can be either utilized in manufacturing or sequestered safely and securely underground. Carbon capture will play a critical role in reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, and the availability of CO2 transport infrastructure is necessary to drive investments in carbon capture technologies.

The legislation would also provide critical regional economic opportunities and create thousands of jobs. An analysis released as part of the Decarb America Project shows that the provisions in the SCALE Act could create approximately 13,000 direct and indirect jobs per year through the 5-year authorization. This figure does not include the additional thousands of jobs created by retrofitting energy-intensive facilities such as cement and steel plants or by building direct air capture (DAC) plants.

“Carbon capture, utilization, and storage will play a critical role in meeting mid-century climate goals, supporting high-paying manufacturing jobs, and maintaining American competitiveness, but cost barriers currently stand in the way of its widespread deployment in the United States,” said Senator Coons, co-chair of the Senate Climate Solutions Caucus. “I’m working to advance the SCALE Act to build this crucial infrastructure that will help reduce industrial emissions and create thousands of high-wage jobs. Now is the time to invest in carbon capture, a promising technology with broad support.”

“As a Main Street entrepreneur and co-founder of the Climate Solutions Caucus, I understand the need to find real solutions to our address our changing climate without putting Americans out of work,” said Senator Braun, co-chair of the Senate Climate Solutions Caucus. “This bill walks the line between climate-smart practices and protecting American workers by driving private investment into the development of carbon transport and storage infrastructure and creating well-paying jobs as a result.”

“If the world wants less carbon in the atmosphere while preserving jobs, the answer is sequestering carbon,” said Dr. Cassidy. “There is no better place in the world than Louisiana to sequester carbon. This bill supports that vision of lower carbon and creates jobs in Louisiana.”

How the SCALE Act supports carbon capture: Interconnected CO2 transport systems that collect CO2 from capture sources and deliver it to shared CO2 storage sites are the key backbone infrastructure needed for widespread carbon capture deployment at the necessary scale to achieve economy-wide emissions reductions. Yet, deployment of CO2 infrastructure faces critical cost barriers that require federal support to overcome. Many countries and regions, including the European Union, the UK, Norway, Australia, and Canada, have already committed billions to construct CO2 transport and storage infrastructure to decarbonize heavy industry, and the United States is currently lagging behind. The SCALE Act would provide the federal support needed to kick-start a CO2 transport and storage infrastructure build-out over the next decade to get the United States back on track. This new transport infrastructure will enable CO2 to be transported from the site of capture to locations where it can be used or stored safely underground.

To support carbon capture and job growth, the SCALE Act would:

  • Establish the CO2 Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (CIFIA) program, which will provide flexible, low-interest loans for CO2 transport infrastructure projects and grants for initial excess capacity on new infrastructure to facilitate future growth. Modeled after the existing TIFIA and WIFIA programs for highway and water infrastructure, CIFIA will help facilitate private sector investment in infrastructure critical for reaching net-zero emissions. The bill also includes grants for Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) studies for CO2 transport infrastructure.
  • Build upon the existing Department of Energy (DOE) CarbonSAFE program to provide cost sharing for deployment of commercial-scale saline geologic CO2 storage projects. The program would give priority to larger, commercial saline geologic storage projects that will serve as hubs for storing CO2 from multiple carbon capture facilities.
  • Authorize increased funding to EPA for permitting Class VI CO2 storage wells in saline geologic formations and providing grants for states to establish their own Class VI permitting programs to ensure rigorous and efficient CO2 geologic storage site permitting.
  • Provide grants to state and local governments for procuring CO2 utilization products and support state and local programs that create demand for materials, fuels, and other products made from captured carbon. The bill also adds the objective of developing standards and certifications for products that use CO2 to DOE’s carbon utilization program.

In the Senate, the bill is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). In the House, cosponsors include U.S. Representatives Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), Pete Stauber (R-Minn.), Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.).

The SCALE Act is endorsed by a broad coalition of labor, environmental, and industry stakeholders: Carbon Capture Coalition, Third Way, National Wildlife Federation, Growth Energy, Carbon Engineering, Clean Air Task Force, Occidental, Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, Bipartisan Policy Center Action, Utility Workers Union of America, Carbon Utilization Research Council, Calpine, GE Gas Power, United Steelworkers, United Mine Workers of America, North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU), C2ES, Carbon180, The Nature Conservancy, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), and American Conservation Coalition.

Additional endorsing quotes can be found here. A one pager on the bill is available here. Bill text is available here.

The Senate Climate Solutions Caucus promotes bipartisan discussion about climate policy and advocates for Congress to play a central role in addressing the challenge. Since launching in late 2019, the caucus has held regular meetings with a variety of stakeholders to discuss their concerns and priorities for federal climate policy and opportunities for collaboration. For more about the caucus’ activities, please visit the caucus website here.