Thursday, July 10, 2008

House Hearing On Boucher Carbon Capture and Storage Bill

Jul 10: The House Energy & Commerce Committee, Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee, held a hearing on H.R. 6258, the Carbon Capture and Storage Early Deployment Act, that was introduced by Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher (D-VA) on June 12 [See WIMS 6/12/08]. The bipartisan legislation would advance the development and deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. CCS is a method of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by capturing and injecting underground the carbon dioxide emitted from electricity generation plants that use fossil fuels.

Witnesses included representatives from: American Electric Power; Carnegie Mellon University; Electric Power Research Institute; North Carolina Utilities Commission; Counsel to United Mine Workers of America; and Natural Resources Defense Council.

In a lengthy opening statement Chairman Boucher said, "The bill creates a non-governmental fund operating under the auspices of the Electric Power Research Institute for the purpose of accelerating the early deployment of carbon dioxide capture and storage technologies. It is a response to recommendations from many individuals and groups, including the Advanced Coal Technology Working Group, that Congress create a CCS early deployment fund. The Advanced Coal Technology Working Group, and advisory committee to the EPA, comprised of a broad cross section of energy and environmental stakeholders, is particularly noteworthy. Its final report issued in January of the year unanimously recommended the early creation of a CCS deployment fund. . .

"The bill before the committee will accelerate the time CCS becomes generally available. . . In order to accelerate the deployment of CCS technologies, the Carbon Capture and Storage Early Deployment Act authorizes the establishment of a Carbon Storage Research Corporation. . . The Corporation will assess fees on distribution utilities for all fossil fuel-based electricity delivered to retail consumers. The assessment will be applied to electricity generated from coal, natural gas and oil and will reflect the relative CO2 emission rates of each fuel. The assessment will total approximately $1 billion annually. The legislation specifies the distribution utilities will be allowed to recover the costs of the fee from retail consumers, resulting in a roughly $10-12 total annual increase in residential electricity rates. . . "The $1 billion annual fund will be distributed by the Corporation in the form of grants and contracts to governmental, academic and private entities for projects with the purpose of accelerating the commercial availability of CCS technologies."

Some cosponsors for the bill include: Representatives Fred Upton (R-MI); John Murtha (D-PA); Joe Barton (R-TX); Nick Rahall (D-WV); Ed Whitfield (R-KY); Jerry Costello (D-IL); John Shimkus (R-IL); Jim Matheson (D-UT); Mike Doyle (D-PA); Tim Holden (D-PA); Brad Ellsworth (D-IN); Baron Hill (D-IN); Charlie Wilson (D-OH); and Deborah Pryce (R-OH).

Access a release from Chairman Boucher (click here). Access the hearing website for a webcast and links to all testimony (click here). Access a release from Environmental Defense Fund (click here). Access legislative details for H.R. 6258 (click here). [*Energy, *Climate]