Chairman Carper’s Opening Statement: Hearing on Carbon Capture

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday July 27, 2022, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing to examine projects and policies supporting carbon capture, utilization, and storage technologies.

Below is the opening statement of Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.), as prepared for delivery:

“We are here today to discuss the potential for carbon capture and storage to help us address climate change, create American jobs, and support economic growth. My sincere thanks to our ranking member, Senator Capito, for requesting this hearing.

“As all of us know, this committee has a history of coming together to advance solutions to some of our biggest environmental and infrastructure challenges. I can think of no greater challenge that we face today — as a nation and as a planet — than the climate crisis.

“This crisis is here now and we are increasingly feeling its impacts, especially in the form of extreme weather events like heat waves. Last weekend, roughly 85 million Americans from the southern Plains to the Northeast were under excessive heat warnings and heat advisories. Just yesterday, St. Louis broke its previous single-day record for rainfall from 1915. And today, much of the Pacific Northwest continues to experience record-breaking high temperatures, putting lives at risk.

“It is worth noting that extreme heat is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in our country. The 20 most costly extreme weather events last year alone resulted in the deaths of almost 700 people in our country, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Extreme heat is also exacerbating drought conditions across much of the western United States, too, threatening critical sectors of our economy like never before. This includes the agricultural sector, which is important to all of our states including my state of Delaware.

“According to the America Farm Bureau Federation, severe drought in the West forced 40 percent of farmers to sell off part of their cattle herds last year. This year, farmers in California have been forced to cut back production on produce such as cherries and almonds amidst the worst drought in 1,200 years.

“The science is clear: climate change is here and these costly extreme weather events are continuing to worsen. If we fail to act now and support a clean energy transition, we do so at our own peril. That is why it is incumbent upon all of us to comprehensively address this issue, using all the tools in our toolbox.

“Carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) are critical tools in reducing the amount of planet-warming greenhouse gases in our atmosphere and keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Don’t just take my word for it. Analysis by the International Energy Agency, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and other respected organizations say as much.

“Last Congress — thanks to the leadership of our former chair, Senator Barrasso, along with Senators Capito, Whitehouse, myself, and others on this committee — we enacted the Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies (USE IT) Act. We worked together on passing this bipartisan legislation to lower the regulatory barriers preventing the widespread development and deployment of carbon capture.

“Today, the Biden Administration’s ongoing implementation of the USE IT Act, coupled with new funding for carbon management projects and federal programs through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, continues to support CCUS research and deployment throughout the country. Just today, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) announced that it is seeking nominations to head two new task forces required by the USE IT Act. These task forces will provide input to inform the responsible deployment of carbon capture, utilization, and storage on federal lands, the Outer Continental Shelf, as well as non-federal lands.

“When we talk about the responsible deployment of CCUS projects, it is important to emphasize the key role that equity must have. I have been pleased to see that CEQ’s guidance for carbon capture projects has reiterated the need to develop robust tribal consultation and stakeholder engagement plans, while also encouraging agencies to prioritize environmental justice in the development of best practices for CCUS efforts.

“Doing so protects overburdened communities from the potential negative impacts of these projects and, ultimately, helps ensure that those most vulnerable to climate change benefit from our clean energy investments.

“Investing in carbon capture is necessary if we are going to meet our climate goals and create economic opportunity in the process. Still, carbon capture alone is not enough to avoid a future plagued by deadly heat waves, devastating storms, and other extreme, climate-related weather events.

“We must also facilitate the widespread deployment of wind, solar, nuclear, hydrogen, and other forms of clean energy. Together, these technologies hold the key to saving our planet and creating good-paying jobs across our nation. I hope more of our colleagues engage in policy debates on how best to do so before it is too late.”