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Heitkamp introduces bill encouraging reduction of carbon emissions and technological innovation in energy sector

Heidi Heitkamp

WASHINGTON -- Legislation encouraging technological innovation to help reduce carbon emissions was reintroduced Wednesday, July 12, in the U.S. Senate.

The bill sponsored by Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., has gained support from nearly 20 senators on both sides of the aisle. It would extend and expand the 45Q carbon capture tax credit and try to spur adoption of low-carbon technologies to transform carbon pollution into usable products.

As written, the bill would provide a $50 tax credit for every metric ton of carbon stored underground and $35 per ton for carbon used for purposes such as enhanced oil recovery. Credits of $20 and $10 per ton are now offered for capture and utilization, respectively.

“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,” Heitkamp said in a statement. “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.”

In addition to extending the tax credits, the bill increases the “commence construction” window for carbon capture projects from five to seven years, and the number of years to claim the credits from 10 to 12 years.

Brad Crabtree, vice president of fossil energy in the Bismarck office of the Great Plains Institute, said he has been working to promote technology for carbon capture and storage for more than a decade. He also co-directs the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative (NEORI), a national coalition of energy, industrial and technology companies, labor unions, environmental organizations and state officials.

To his knowledge, there’s never been a coalition like NEORI that has support from so many different groups, Crabtree said..

“Despite all of the partisanship and disagreement in Washington over energy policy, this group of companies and organizations that normally never work together have been working to advance federal policy that would provide an incentive for the capture and storage of CO2,” he said.

Crabtree said it is hoped the legislation will encourage more oil production in the United States.

“In the shale fracturing, we’ve been producing a lot more oil for the country, but we still import an awful lot of oil,” he said. “We have mature oil and gas fields all over the country that still have many tens of billions of barrels of oil that haven’t been produced and by injecting CO2 you liberate that oil and make it available to produce it with wells. So, there’s an opportunity to produce more of the oil that we are using, to produce it here at home with all of those jobs and other economic benefits.”

While everyone may have their own motivations as to why they support the technology, there are positives for both the energy sector and environmentalists who would like to see the amount of carbon emissions in the country decrease, Crabtree said.

“If you come at it from an energy production standpoint, this technology is a way to maximize the use of our energy resources as a country,” he said. “If your concern is environmental, this is one of the most important technologies for reducing carbon emissions. …  You’ve got this interesting mix of the energy industry, industrial companies, unions and environment groups all working together because this technology advances their interests.”

Sydney Mook

Sydney Mook started working as the multimedia editor for The Press in January 2016.  She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science in three and half years in December 2015. While at the USD, she worked for the campus newspaper, The Volante, as well as the television news show, Coyote News. She also interned at South Dakota Public Broadcasting and spent the summer before her senior year interning in Fort Knox for the ROTC Cadet Summer Training program. In her spare time, Sydney enjoys cheering on the New York Yankees and the Kentucky Wildcats, as well as playing golf. If you've got an idea for a video be sure to give her a call!

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