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Pallone Remarks at Legislative Hearing on the USE IT Act

Feb 6, 2020
Press Release


Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) delivered the following opening remarks today at an Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee legislative hearing entitled, “Clearing the Air: Legislation to Promote Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage:”

I’m pleased to be here this morning to discuss H.R. 1166, the Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies (USE IT) Act.  This is a bipartisan bill introduced by Representatives Peters, McKinley and Veasey.  It is designed to advance carbon capture, storage and utilization – important components of combatting the climate crisis as this Committee works to reach a 100 percent clean economy.

In our earlier hearings on the climate crisis we consistently heard that we must develop and deploy technologies to capture and store carbon to prevent it from further elevating greenhouse gas pollution.  Earlier this week, a group of carbon capture experts said that we may need as many as 2,000 carbon capture facilities by 2040 to reach the mid-century goals laid out in the Paris Agreement.

Clearly, we must find ways to remove carbon from waste streams and from the atmosphere and store it permanently and safely.  We also need to develop new processes to convert carbon waste streams into durable products.  Unfortunately, steel, cement and other industrial manufacturing activities will likely continue to require fossil fuels, and therefore, for these industries, carbon capture and sequestration are essential.  They are needed to achieve the deep greenhouse gas pollution reductions that science says is required. 

There is a lot we must do to achieve these goals.  We must bring the costs of carbon capture down.  We must support research and development of new carbon-based products.  And we must gain experience with carbon storage that is verified by monitoring and reporting programs to ensure carbon is being stored permanently and safely.  We also need policies that mandate the control of carbon pollution directly or indirectly.

H.R. 1166 addresses some of these important goals, and I commend the bill’s sponsors for their efforts.  At the same time, I believe the bill could be strengthened to more effectively reduce emissions.

First, I believe that the Department of Energy, which has pursued research, development and demonstration of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) for many years should play a larger role.

Second, while enhanced oil recovery is still the most profitable use for captured carbon, we will not make real progress in reducing climate pollution unless there is significant net storage associated with it.

Third, I am concerned that the bill focuses too heavily on streamlining pipeline construction.  I would like to see it provide a lot more direction on medium to long-term planning for a time when enhanced oil recovery will not be the dominant use of captured carbon.

I also want to work with the sponsors to ensure the bill does more to ensure that captured carbon is safely and permanently sequestered.  I have concerns about the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) track record of enforcing the requirements for companies claiming the carbon sequestration tax credit.  We must also strengthen EPA’s Underground Injection Control Program to ensure that it protects underground sources of drinking water.  This is particularly important as climate change stresses those sources in new ways. 

H.R. 1166 makes a significant down payment on crucial innovation in carbon dioxide removal and CCS technologies – and that’s very important.  I also think we must do far more to effectively tackle the climate crisis.

I commend the bill sponsors for their leadership on this issue.  I hope we can continue to work together to strengthen it and gain additional support from members on both sides of the aisle. 

We have an excellent panel of witnesses here today.  I look forward to hearing their testimony and recommendations for improving this legislation.  Thank you.