WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) today led a broad bipartisan group of senators in reintroducing legislation to extend and expand a key tax credit to encourage technological innovation that would reduce carbon emissions, and recognize the need for a diverse energy mix around the world for years to come.
The 45Q tax credit, which the bill would extend, supports maintaining a place in our energy mix for existing resources like coal and natural gas by encouraging development and use of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies and processes-while also spurring adoption of low-carbon technologies to transform carbon pollution into useable products. Heitkamp and Whitehouse first introduced the bill last July. Since then, they have worked with Capito to build out bipartisan support among more progressive Democratic senators and more conservative Republican senators. A wide cross-section of coal companies, utilities, environmental groups, and labor organizations also support the bill, reinforcing a willingness from all sides to come together and seek bipartisan solutions.
'North Dakota coal and utility workers power our homes every day, and our bipartisan bill would guarantee they can continue do that for years to come,' said Heitkamp. 'For too long, discussions about coal and carbon emissions have been partisan and divisive. But this bill shows that by bringing together a strong bipartisan group of senators-as well as coal companies and environmental groups-it's possible to find a realistic, compromise path forward for this reliable, redundant power source. Our bill would spur investment in technology to reduce emissions, while encouraging companies to reuse CO in enhanced oil recovery and beyond. Just as important, it would bolster U.S. leadership in carbon capture utilization technologies-technologies that we can sell overseas to reduce emissions and address climate change worldwide. Nothing gets done in Congress unless all sides sit down, get serious, and find common ground-and that's what I did with Senators Whitehouse and Capito to rally such a broad coalition of senators, coal companies, and environmental groups in support of our bill. Even in these partisan times, bipartisanship and commonsense can prevail - and our bill reinforces that.'
'Everyone agrees carbon pollution is bad, but under the current rules new technologies to reduce carbon can't gain a foothold in the market,' said Whitehouse. 'This bipartisan bill will help level the field for new technologies, allowing facilities that prevent emissions to compete with older, dirtier plants. In the process, we'll clear a path for promising businesses in Rhode Island and around the country that turn carbon pollution into useful products. That's a win-win.'
'The United States has an opportunity to be a leader when it comes to carbon capture technologies, and the FUTURE Act will help us achieve that goal,' Capito said. 'Not only will it help us protect our coal industry, which is so critical to states like West Virginia, but it will also help us expand our oil production, reduce our emissions and compete internationally as other countries continue to build coal plants to power their economic development. The legislation will incentivize investments in the deployment of proven carbon capture systems, a key component of pursuing a true all-of-the-above energy strategy. I'm proud to introduce this legislation with colleagues from both sides of the aisle and broad support from industry, environmentalists, utilities and state leaders.'
U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) helped write and introduce the bill. Click here to read a one-page summary of the bill.
The senators' bipartisan bill would extend and expand the 45Q tax credit to provide certainty to utilities and other industrial sources, and would incentivize the build-out of industrial carbon capture projects that plan to use COand CO for enhanced oil recovery and carbon utilization-the conversion of carbon dioxide into useable products. The 45Q provision is an integral part of the tax code for incentivizing carbon capture. Carbon capture cannot take off on a large scale unless there is federal support to encourage investment and implementation of the technology through tax credits and other mechanisms, which this bill would provide. The bill would also provide a crucial lifeline to coal miners by providing a pathway to maintain coal as a part of our diverse energy mix, doing so in a cleaner way, and reinforcing bipartisan support for standing up for these workers and their communities.
In addition to extending 45Q, the bill strengthens support for carbon capture technologies by increasing the 'commence construction' window for carbon capture projects from five to seven years and by increasing the number of years to claim the credits from 10 to 12 years.
Cosponsors of the bill include U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Chris Coons (D-DE), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Gary Peters (D-MI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Mark Warner (D-VA).
Heitkamp's work to find a realistic path forward for coal builds on her more than a decade of experience on the board of directors of Dakota Gasification, the one-of-a-kind synfuels plant in Beulah, N.D. During her service as North Dakota's Tax Commissioner, on the North Dakota Industrial Commission, and as the state's Attorney General, Heitkamp was able to work on viable solutions to make sure coal remains a strong part of the North Dakota's energy mix.
Since joining the Senate, Heitkamp has worked to finding a realistic path for clean coal by:
Bringing together Democrats to urge strong CCUS funding, as president's budget proposes cuts: Last month, Heitkamp led a diverse group of 15 Democratic senators -including liberal and conservative lawmakers-in urging congressional appropriators to fund strong U.S. Department of Energy investments in carbon, capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies, which are key to coal's future. The president's budget threatens to cut funding for the Energy Department Office of Fossil Energy by 55 percent, including funding cuts of at least 84 percent to CCUS programs. Such cuts would significantly hinder the advancement of CCUS technologies, which North Dakota's rural electric co-ops, coal workers, and ratepayers rely on to support a path forward for coal-fired power through clean coal research and development.
Introducing major legislation in 2013 and 2015 to put coal on a viable path forward: Heitkamp's bill would incentivize companies to invest in technologies that reduce the carbon footprint of coal-fired power. This is done through federal funding programs, federal support for private investment, and recommendations to Congress that provide insight on how best to support future CCS projects in the U.S. In May 2015, Heitkamp and Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia introduced a series of bills to make sure coal remains part of America's energy mix, incorporating Heitkamp's bill.
Convening industry, lawmakers, and academics to discuss path forward on coal: Heitkamp co-hosted a Coal Technology Symposium on Capitol Hill in 2014 that brought together industry, lawmakers, experts and academics - including the Energy and Environmental Research Center from Grand Forks. To a crowded room, Heitkamp laid out the importance of advancing realistic energy policies and discussed the vital role coal plays in providing affordable energy in North Dakota and around the country.