Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced on May 12 the Carbon Removal and Emissions Storage Technologies (CREST) Act. The new legislation directs the Departments of Energy and Interior to put in place new research programs and evaluate the feasibility of CO2 removal and storage pathways, measure the net impact of CO2 removal solutions, and launch an innovative pilot reverse auction purchasing program to speed up the commercialization of the carbon removal market.
The CREST Act is supported by many organizations and companies focusing on reducing greenhouse emissions.
“The effects of climate change are evident across Maine, which has serious implications for the livelihoods of many people across the state,” said Senator Collins. “(…) This bipartisan bill would spur research and development for carbon removal technologies, as well as accelerate the commercialization of innovative carbon removal solutions to help make them more affordable.”
Carbon removal is necessary to blunt the impacts of climate change, and simply reducing future emissions is not enough, said Senator Cantwell during hearing of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. “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.”
Title I of the new legislation builds upon already authorized CO2 removal research and development programs to include carbon removal pathways for sequestration or utilization. The CREST act focuses on several key areas:
- Biomass Carbon Removal. Expands the scope of the Department of Energy’s current CO2 capture research to include biological CO2 removal from terrestrial and water sources, including with algae cultivation, soil enhancement, enhanced photosynthesis and root growth. The legislation also introduces an initiative to develop new feed and fuel products from CO2.
- Geological Carbon Removal. Aids research and pilot programs for CO2 mineralization, including field experiments to establish the removal potential of reactive minerals on soils and beaches, injecting reactive formulations in formations below the earth’s surface, and reusing industrial residue and mine tailings in manufacturing. Under the bill, the Interior Department is to conduct a national assessment of locations and suitable reactive minerals quantities.
- Aquatic CO2 Removal. Encourages the Department of Energy to pursue ocean CO2 removal pathways such as blue CO2 management, which includes coastal and marine biomass, and direct ocean capture (DOC). The legislation would also introduce a program that researches and monitors the ecological impacts of DOC and other technologies.
- Atmospheric CO2 Removal. Directs the Department of Energy to research, and develop manufacturing techniques for direct air capture (DAC).
- CO2 Removal Quantification. Provides competitive funding to those seeking financial assistance to complete a life-cycle analysis of emissions.
The new bill builds on the Energy Act of 2020, which enabled the first comprehensive federal CO2 removal research and development program, and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) which allocated $3.6 billion for DAC.