On June 30, 2021, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) delivered a Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Sequestration (CCUS) report to Congress, mandated by the Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies (USE IT) Act passed in December 2020. Consistent with the direction of the USE IT Act, the report provides an inventory of existing permitting requirements for CCUS deployment and identifies best practices for advancing the efficient, orderly, and responsible development of CCUS projects at increased scale.
CCUS refers to a set of technologies that remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the emissions of point sources or the atmosphere and permanently sequesters them. According to leading scientists and experts, removing CO2 from the air is essential to tackling the climate crisis and mitigating the most severe impacts of climate change.
“To avoid the worst impacts of climate change and reach President Biden’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, we need to safely develop and deploy technologies that keep carbon pollution from entering the air and remove pollution from the air,” said CEQ Chair Brenda Mallory. “The report we are releasing today outlines a framework for how the U.S. can accelerate carbon capture technologies and projects in a way that benefits all communities.”
As part of the American Jobs Plan, President Biden has committed to:
- Increasing support for CCUS research, development, demonstration, and deployment;
- Enhancing the Section 45Q tax incentive for CCUS to make it direct pay and easier to use for hard-to-decarbonize industrial applications, direct air capture, and retrofits of existing power plants;
- Advancing a technology-inclusive Energy Efficiency and Clean Electricity Standard;
- Ensuring a robust and effective regulatory regime; and
- Supporting efforts to ensure that CCUS technologies are informed by community perspectives and deliver desired climate, public health, and economic goals.
The CEQ report outlines these commitments. Additionally, it details the existing regulatory framework that is already in place and capable of permitting and reviewing actions for CCUS, while also protecting the environment, public health, and safety as these projects move forward.
In the report, CEQ also identifies a number of areas where it may work with Federal agencies to continue to facilitate responsible deployment of CCUS, including coordination of permitting processes among agencies; increasing data collection on the non-CO2 air pollution impacts of CCUS projects and providing more clarity regarding the impacts of CCUS projects in areas of non-attainment; convening agencies to clarify jurisdiction for establishing rates and access for common carrier pipelines; identifying opportunities for Federal procurement of products that utilize or remove CO2; and examination of offshore issues, the process for using underground pore space, and permitting on Federal lands.
The report was drafted with input from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Departments of Energy, the Interior, Transportation, and the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council. In the coming months, CEQ will convene an interagency working group to develop further guidance based on this report, and will establish no fewer than two CCUS regional task forces, as required by Congress. CEQ intends to issue any new guidance to agencies by the end of the year.