House Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher (D-Va.) and ranking minority member Fred Upton (R-Mich.) introduced industry-backed legislation on Wednesday to invest billions of dollars in carbon capture-and-sequestration (CCS) technology.
The bill [PDF] is intended to “accelerate the development and early deployment of systems for the capture and storage of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel electric generation facilities.” It would create a $1 billion annual fund, paid into by utilities that use coal, natural gas, and oil. The utilities recover the money by passing on the cost to consumers — the bill’s sponsors estimate that cost at around $10-12 per consumer per year.
The bill would create an industry-managed “Carbon Storage Research Corporation,” which would administer the fund through the nonpartisan Electric Power Research Institute. The CSRC would distribute the money through grants and contracts to governmental, academic, and private entities to help research, develop, and commercialize CCS technologies.
In his floor statement, Boucher called the legislation a “necessary first step toward the implementation of … a cap and trade system,” since it would help ease the transition for fossil fuel utilities.
“If severe emissions reduction requirements in a cap and trade system take effect before the carbon capture and storage technologies are available, the effect on coal fired utilities win particular would be severe,” said Boucher.
The National Mining Association and the United Mine Workers of America have voiced support for the legislation, as have Duke Energy, Progress Energy, American Electric Power, and Dominion and Southern Co., some of the largest utilities in the country.