Ernest Moniz, who was the U.S. energy secretary during Obama’s presidency, proposed creating a federal agency that would pay for carbon removal projects. Moniz now leads the Energy Futures Initiative, a think tank that recently released a report in favor of government funding carbon removal, overseen by a new National Carbon Removal Authority.
During an event hosted by Energy Futures Initiative on Dec. 8, Congressmen Paul Tonko and Scott Peters supported Moniz in urging policymakers to view carbon removal as a “public good.”
“While a federal carbon removal procurement bill is unlikely to pass in the short term, we should be building our mission now so that we’re ready when the political window of opportunity opens,” Peters said.
Moniz said that carbon dioxide removal is “absolutely necessary for any serious attempt” at reaching net zero by 2050.
However, the private sector does not have much financial incentive to develop such projects. The Energy Futures Initiative argues that this problem could be solved through a federal purchasing program that would pay for projects entirely.
Tonko and Peters introduced a bill this April that would designate the U.S. Energy Department as a CO2 offset anchor customer, requiring the government body to purchase increasing amounts of carbon dioxide each year. The bill has not yet moved out of committee.
Congress has already authorized spending for direct air capture through the bipartisan infrastructure law, which allocated $3.5 billion for the technology, and the Inflation Reduction Act, which expanded federal tax credits for every metric ton of carbon removed.
The Energy Futures report recommended a policy plan to follow up on Tonko’s bill that would start in 2035 under a new agency separate from the U.S. Department of Energy. The project, dubbed CO2-Secure, would begin with a lump sum of $33.2 billion for its first decade.
Implementing the project would require Congress’ authorization. “Attracting bipartisan political support is essential, both for the enactment of the needed legislation as well as for sustaining support for implementation over time,” the report stated.