EPW Hearing Statement: Expanding and Accelerating the Deployment and Use of Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Sequestration

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held the hearing, “Expanding and Accelerating the Deployment and Use of Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Sequestration.” Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.), as prepared for delivery:

Mr. Chairman, thank you for convening this hearing today, and thank you to our witnesses for joining us. It is refreshing to have a hearing that looks at solutions to climate change, as opposed to a hearing that fuels the debate over the science of climate change. I believe one of the most important roles for government is to create a nurturing environment for job creation and job preservation. Another critical role is to help protect public health and try to ensure that all Americans can pursue life, liberty and happiness. Luckily, these two are not mutually exclusive.

“I spent the early years of my life growing up in communities in West Virginia whose economies depended largely on coal. For a short time, I was the son of a coal miner. Many years later, I am now a U.S. Senator who is privileged to represent the lowest-lying state in our nation; however, I haven’t entirely forgotten my roots. I have long believed that the deployment of technologies that allow us to burn coal in electric power generation in a much cleaner way with significant reductions in emissions can be a real win-win for coal communities, for manufacturing and for our climate. 

“Today, our country is in the midst of a clean energy revolution, and that didn’t happen by accident. Over the last eight years, starting with the Recovery Act, the federal government has provided economic incentives and environmental targets to encourage investments in clean energy. As a result, $507 billion dollars have been invested in the clean energy sector over the past ten years, and our country is a leader in exporting clean air and clean energy technology. Thanks in part to these investments in clean energy and energy efficiency, American consumers are paying less for energy today, and jobs are being created here at home to produce these clean energy technologies. 

“Following eight years of smart economic and environmental policies, America has largely rebounded from one of the greatest economic downturns in our history. Until last week, we’ve enjoyed lowered energy costs at the meter and the pump for consumers, and we’ve implemented clean air protections that protect public health and our climate, all while adding 16 million jobs over the past six years. Not too shabby when compared to the six years that preceded it.

“However, as we know, not all of our communities have felt the benefits of this clean-energy economic boom. Too many of our manufacturing plants remain dormant. In fact, a number of them can be found in my home state of Delaware, as well as in the states of many of us who are members of this committee. In addition, many of our coal mines and coal-fired utility plants are continuing the decades-long trend of closing or reducing production. Investments in carbon capture and storage can help slow or reverse this trend. These investments can lead to good paying American jobs in engineering and design, as well as in manufacturing, installing and operating technology that is made in America and sold all over the world. Investments in this technology are also critical if we are going to meet our long-term climate goals.

“But, just as with other coal-related technologies, the barriers to carbon capture and storage are largely financial –not environmental. Investors have shied away from expensive, large-scale carbon capture projects, in part, because energy prices are low, and this country has struggled to put a price on carbon usage. The reluctance of investors to invest is not because we require that sequestered carbon stay sequestered or that these operations meet other basic and important environmental requirements. Walking away from climate and clean air protections has only compounded the problem. As a result, we are well on the way to ceding the economic opportunities of carbon capture technology to other countries, such as China, which only hurts the very communities that our President says he wants to help the most. 

“In closing, let me reiterate that we don’t need to scrap our environmental standards to provide a nurturing environment for American innovation and economic investment in carbon sequestration technologies. They are not mutually exclusive. With that said, I look forward to hearing from our witnesses on how we might be able to work together to create a win-win situation. America could use a few of those right now!”