Dec 13, 2019 - Energy & Environment

Oil industry to Trump: Carbon capture needs way more subsidies

An illustration of a pumpjack lifting planet Earth.

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Technology that captures carbon dioxide emissions needs way more subsidies — reaching well into the billions of dollars — to thrive, according to a new oil industry report.

Driving the news: The report by the National Petroleum Council, an advisory committee to the Energy Department representing all aspects of the oil and gas sector, recommends putting $15 billion into research and more than doubling an existing subsidy.

The big picture: Carbon capture technology, which can be installed in power plants and other emitting facilities, is considered essential to cutting emissions given the world remains heavily dependent upon oil, natural gas and coal. It’s expensive, but technically feasible.

By the numbers:

  • The report says the Energy Department should put $1.5 billion a year — or $15 billion over a decade — into research and development funding. That represents a threefold increase over current funding, according to the authors of the report.
  • An existing tax credit gives companies between $35 and $50 per ton of carbon dioxide captured; the report recommends increasing incentives to $110. These are effective prices on carbon, just narrowly tailored to a specific technology.

Between the lines: It comes as quite a surprise that essentially the entire oil industry — via this below-the-radar committee — is telling Washington they want a price on carbon of $110.

But, but, but: Much of this would need congressional support, and although funding for energy innovation has increased in recent years, it’s unlikely Congress would approve such a huge increase in spending — especially without a bigger package of other climate-change related policies.

Go deeper: The Houston Chronicle has more on the study.

Go deeper