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Climate Friendly? Congress Passes Carbon Capture and Storage Tax Breaks

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Southern Company's Kemper power plant, a carbon capture and storage facility in Kentucky. XTUV0010 / Wikimedia Commons

Nestled inside the U.S. budget lawmakers passed Friday morning were tax breaks for an array of energy sources, including some struggling and controversial projects and technologies.

A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, including several Democrats from coal-producing states, pushed through extended tax breaks for carbon capture and storage technologies (CCS) in the new bill, expanding a tax credit created in 2008 for 12 years.


The CCS extenders have drawn praise from a diverse collection of fossil fuel and clean energy camps, but also skepticism from some groups who claim the credits have been used only to subsidize increased oil production. The budget also extended a credit for nuclear power plants that will primarily help the struggling Vogtle plant in Georgia.

As reported by InsideClimate News, a coalition of environmental groups including Earthjustice, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace USA opposed the credits and said they "have not delivered measurable progress toward more climate friendly uses of carbon such as permanent sequestration or utilization, and appear to only have been used to increase oil production."

In a blog post Wednesday, Elizabeth Noll, legislative director for transportation and energy at the Natural Resources Defense Council, wrote, "Carbon capture can be a useful tool to reduce emissions of dirty power plants and industrial sources, but we need to strengthen accountability, not weaken it, to ensure taxpayer investments are benefiting them."

For a deeper dive:

General budget: InsideClimate News, Ars Technica, Quartz, Bloomberg. CCS: Axios, Bloomberg, Houston Chronicle, Washington Examiner, Reuters. Vogtle: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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