October 6, 2022

Carbon Capture: The Fossil Fuel Industry’s Wrong Climate Solution

The Inflation Reduction Act is the largest climate investment in history and has changed the game for our transition to clean energy. But it also includes tax credits for carbon capture technologies that threaten to prolong the life of fossil fuels and perpetuate the damage of pollution in overburdened communities. Here’s why carbon capture is largely the wrong solution, and what we can do to stop it.

What is carbon capture?

  • Carbon capture and separation (CCS) and carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) are technologies that capture carbon emissions in fossil fuel power plants and industrial plants. The carbon is then either captured underground or put to use.
  • This technology has been advocated by the fossil fuel industry for years as a way to continue burning coal and gas, allegedly with a smaller climate impact.
  • There are only 12 projects in operation in the US today, and all but one use the captured carbon to pump more oil from the ground through a process called “advanced oil recovery.”
  • With new taxpayer subsidies available, including the Inflation Reduction Act, we may see a boom in new CCS and CCUS projects.
  • CCS differs from carbon dioxide removal, which refers to technology and natural solutions that remove carbon directly from the atmosphere.

How does carbon capture extend the life of fossil fuels?

  • Subsidizing carbon capture for uneconomical coal and gas-fired power plants keeps them working and polluting even as they set more ambitious climate targets.
  • CCS projects are energy-intensive and often run on dirty energy, adding to the overall carbon footprint of the resource.
  • The vast majority of captured carbon is now used for enhanced oil recovery, nullifying many of the supposed climate benefits and further reinforcing our reliance on polluted fuels.

How does carbon capture harm the environment and communities?

  • CCS nowhere near all carbon emissions are captured It is obtained from the power plants where it is installed and does not reduce other pollutants that threaten human health.
  • The process of capturing, transporting and storing carbon creates additional safety and health threats to nearby communities, including toxic releases and waste.
  • Communities are too often excluded from the decision-making process about CCS projects progressing without adequate transparency or public input.
  • CCS is incredibly expensive, and some receive federal subsidies paid by taxpayers. mismanaged. Utility customers may also have to pay the bill for uneconomical CCS projects.
  • The subsidy of CCS diverts resources away from real climate solutions such as clean energy and electrification and hinders progress towards environmental justice.

Is there a role for carbon capture in our clean energy transition?

  • The science is clear that we must urgently and massively cut greenhouse gas emissions and remove CO2 from the atmosphere to avert the worst effects of the climate crisis.
  • But massive construction of carbon capture facilities is not the answer. Using this risky and expensive technology to prolong the life of fossil fuels is dangerous and damaging.
  • To achieve our climate, health and environmental justice goals, we must move from fossil fuels to a zero-emission, 100% clean energy economy.
  • And we must ensure that the communities that bear the brunt of fossil fuel pollution benefit from our clean energy transition.
  • In the short term, CCS may have limited use in reducing emissions from industrial sectors that are currently difficult to electrify, such as cement production. but only does not prolong dependence on fossil fuels, and issues of health, safety and environmental justice are addressed.

What is world justice doing to combat this wrong solution?

  • We will use the force of the law to combat CCS projects that extend the life of fossil fuel power plants and other polluting facilities.
  • We oppose taxpayer subsidies for CCS projects, including loan guarantees and tax credits.
  • We oppose efforts to force utility customers to pay to install CCS in uneconomical coal and gas plants.
  • We oppose the production and use of blue hydrogen from fossil gas paired with carbon capture.
  • We oppose the use of carbon capture for enhanced oil recovery.
  • We will continue to fight for the strongest possible carbon pollution standards for power plants to accelerate the clean energy transition.

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