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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The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 5,428,605 — Total deaths: 345,375 — Total recoveries — 2,179,408Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil Over 100 cases in Germany tied to single day of church services.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.