Occidental Petroleum (OXY) is looking to build carbon removal projects in Texas that could help pull tens of millions of CO2 from the atmosphere and is seeking tax breaks to finance its operations.
The projects, which had not been publicly discussed, propose the first CO2 removal technology operations on a commercial scale. Carbon removal is becoming increasingly popular as a way to counteract climate change on both the government and industry levels.
The oil company has applied for property tax breaks in two Texas counties in the past few months. The abatements could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars if the projects get completed, an Inside Climate News analysis said. The applications show details on the scale of the investments and insight into how OXY plans to finance them.
The company plans to build 14 DAC projects in the upcoming 15 years on two sites: near Odessa and along the Gulf Coast. According to the applications, the completed projects would have the potential to capture 56 million metric tons of CO2 annually.
Some scientists and policy experts say carbon removal technologies could play a small but important role in achieving the Paris Agreement’s targets of reducing global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Yet, carbon removal remains expensive, and some environmentalists argue that the technology could potentially harm nature. They also say that carbon removal projects could be used as an excuse to put less focus on efforts to decrease fossil fuel emissions.
“I think it’s kind of absurd,” said Virginia Palacios, executive director of advocacy group Commission Shift, in reference to the possibility of tax breaks. “Because it’s supposed to be a public benefit, but ultimately it’s a private company that’s going to be making lots of money.”