Feb 12, 2019

What the new carbon tax credit does for electricity

Illustration:Rebecca Zisser/Axios

One of the biggest concerns about the use of technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions is that it would displace renewable energy and deepen dependence on fossil fuels, but a new report out today suggests that’s largely unlikely to happen.

Driving the news: The report by environmental group Clean Air Task Force finds that a federal tax credit that Congress expanded last year for carbon-capture technologies doesn’t displace any electricity from renewable energy while maintaining an impactful reduction of emissions.

The big picture: The technology that captures CO2 from power plant smokestacks and industrial facilities is prohibitively expensive in most cases but considered essential to reducing heat-trapping emissions to the level scientists say is necessary. The Trump administration and Congress have supported its development, despite Washington’s deep divisions over larger climate-change policies.

By the numbers:

  • Nearly 50 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions could be captured and stored underground annually by 2030 on U.S. power plants fueled by coal and natural gas, the report found.
  • That’s equivalent to taking 7 million cars off the road.
  • The tax credit encourages 3% of America’s fossil-fuel electricity to use carbon-capture technology — most of that on existing coal plants.
  • It has virtually zero impact on developing electricity from renewable energy.

What’s next: Deepika Nagabhushan, an expert at the group and lead author of the report, says the tax could help the U.S. get more than two-thirds of the way toward achieving goals by the International Energy Agency, but guidance is needed from the IRS to really encourage more investment.

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Scoop: New White House personnel chief tells Cabinet liaisons to target Never Trumpers

McEntee, shown with White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, walks on the South Lawn of the White House Jan. 9. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Johnny McEntee called in White House liaisons from cabinet agencies for an introductory meeting Thursday, in which he asked them to identify political appointees across the U.S. government who are believed to be anti-Trump, three sources familiar with the meeting tell Axios.

Behind the scenes: McEntee, a 29-year-old former body man to Trump who was fired in 2018 by then-Chief of Staff John Kelly but recently rehired — and promoted to head the presidential personnel office — foreshadowed sweeping personnel changes across government.

How art can help us understand AI

Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

Activists and journalists have been telling us for years that we are handing too much of our human autonomy over to machines and algorithms. Now artists have a showcase in the heart of Silicon Valley to highlight concerns around facial recognition, algorithmic bias and automation.

Why it matters: Art and technology have been partners for millennia, as Steve Jobs liked to remind us. But the opening of "Uncanny Valley: Being Human in the Age of AI" tomorrow at the de Young Museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park puts art in the role of technology's questioner, challenger — and sometimes prosecutor.

The Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury fight is the rematch of the century

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The weekend's biggest sporting event is Wilder-Fury II, which despite its name is not an action movie sequel starring Jean-Claude Van Damme but, rather, a boxing match starring arguably the two best heavyweights in the world.

The backdrop: In their first meeting in December 2018, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury put on a memorable show at Staples Center, with Fury surviving a brutal right hand in the 12th round to earn a split-decision draw.

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