Cantwell Touts Her Bipartisan Natural Carbon Capture Legislation to Help Avoid Future Extreme Weather Events

Cantwell: “just reducing future emissions is no longer enough”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee held a hearing on U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell’s Carbon Removal and Emissions Storage Technologies (CREST) Act of 2022, which she introduced with Senator Collins (R-ME) last June and is also cosponsored by Senators Cassidy (R-LA) and King (I-ME). The CREST Act would establish new research programs at the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) focusing on natural carbon removal and storage strategies, as well as establish an innovative pilot reverse auction purchasing program to accelerate carbon removal market commercialization. The CREST Act ultimately aims to help reduce atmospheric greenhouse gas emission levels in order to fight climate change and prevent more frequent and extreme weather events.

“According to a new report from the world's top scientists, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is essential to blunting the impacts of climate change. In other words, just reducing future emissions is no longer enough,” said Sen. Cantwell. “So we need to figure out how to remove and trap carbon pollution from the atmosphere in order to avoid more frequent and intense extreme weather we are seeing across the United States.”

Sen. Cantwell continued, “If we allow global warming to reach two degrees Celsius and we are on track to exceed that level the Pacific Northwest will suffer from devastating heat waves. That is why it's so important to advance promising tools of carbon removal.”

During her remarks, Sen. Cantwell referenced the 2021 heat wave that scorched Washington state and killed hundreds of people in the U.S. and Canada. A new study concluded that multiple trends are pushing the Pacific Northwest’s climate and making such extreme events possible. The study found that the likelihood of such an extreme heat wave occurring in the 1950s was virtually impossible. Today, the likelihood is about once every 200 years. But if climate change reaches two degree Celsius above pre-industrial averages, and the world is currently projected to warm far beyond that point, a 2021-type Pacific Northwest heat wave is likely to occur every decade.

At the hearing, Dr. Kathryn Huff, Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy, testified in support of the proposal stating, “The CREST Act supports the advancement of carbon dioxide removal research and development, which has a critical role in helping the United States achieve net zero emissions by 2050.”

With increasing private and public sector commitments to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, companies are seeking ways to invest in quantifiable, durable, and verifiable carbon removal solutions. Despite the increased interest, current cost estimates show that private sector investment alone is unlikely to be sufficient to research and deploy carbon removal pathways.

Title I of the CREST Act builds upon previously authorized carbon removal research and development programs to include biomass, geological, aquatic, and atmospheric carbon removal solutions that can permanently sequester carbon dioxide or use carbon dioxide to produce valuable products such as biofuels.

Title II of the CREST Act creates a five-year pilot carbon removal purchasing program which utilizes an innovative reverse auction mechanism to find the most cost-efficient strategies for domestic carbon removal solutions meeting specified performance metrics.

A summary of the CREST Act is available HERE.

When Sen. Cantwell first introduced the legislation in June, she said, “We need to use every tool at our disposal to try and protect Washingtonians from the worst impacts of climate change. Harnessing the power and ingenuity of Mother Nature to remove and permanently store carbon pollution will help us reach critical net-zero emission reduction goals while creating new economic opportunities.”  

The bipartisan CREST Act is supported by a broad range of industry stakeholders. A full list is available HERE.

Video of Sen. Cantwell’s remarks are available HERE, audio HERE, and transcript HERE.

Video of Dr. Huff’s testimony is available HERE, audio HERE, and transcript HERE.

The full bill text is available HERE, a summary HERE.