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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: February 18, 2020 04:33 PM
From: Senator Sharif Street
To: All Senate members
Subject: Carbon Capture Investment in Pennsylvania
In the near future, I will introduce legislation to invest in carbon capture and storage technology in Pennsylvania.

In the past year, over 6.5 trillion metric tons of greenhouses gases (GHG) have been released into the global atmosphere, including Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Methane (CH4). We know that these greenhouse gases are contributing to climate change by trapping heat in the atmosphere and increasing global temperatures.

Most policy discussion around ending the threat of climate change has been framed by techniques to reduce the amount of GHG that is emitted into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels for transportation, industry, and electric generation. While a worthy endeavor, this is only part of the solution. It is imperative that we use all options available to us to tackle this challenge and growing threat.

Rather than solely focusing on the prevention of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere, there are ways to remove it from the atmosphere and safely store it, so it does not affect the global climate. GHG in the atmosphere can be captured, or sequestered, through several different methods, and there are multiple actions that we can take today to incentivize practices by individuals, local governments, businesses, and farmers, to support best practices and new technologies to capture and store GHG that would otherwise be left in the atmosphere.

One of the easiest ways of removing GHG from the atmosphere is to plant more trees. Trees consume CO2 as part of their normal growing process, cleaning the air of GHG and storing carbon in the wood of the tree itself. By implementing a bold plan to plant millions of new trees in the commonwealth, enacting best practices for the management of our public forests, and incentivizing private forest owners to not develop their lands and to expand their canopy of trees, we can reduce the amount of GHG in the atmosphere.

Another approach is to incentivize the investment in carbon capture utilization and sequestration technology that will reduce emissions from power plants, and from industrial facilities like cement and steel manufacturers. This technology can also remove CO2 from the air and either store it safely underground or process it into useful products. Implementing these technologies would create high paying technical jobs trained by the Pennsylvania academic institutions and skilled labor jobs that have the strong support of many building trades unions across the Commonwealth.

Finally, in 2021, Pennsylvania will have to reauthorize the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act (AEPS) and this will give us an opportunity to promote the use of carbon capture technologies. Upon time of AEPS renewal, we can transition from AEPS to creating a new Clean Energy Standard with carbon capture as an important part of a new tier system. The tier system will look similar to AEPS, with renewable energy sources singularly in Tier 1. Tier 2 can consist of carbon capture technology, nuclear technology, and other zero carbon energy sources to create an innovative and competitive new market with carbon capture playing an integral role.

If we are going to seriously tackle the problem of climate change, we must come at the problem from all angles. While there have been a lot of good policy proposals to transition our economy to one based on renewable energy consumption, we must also do what we can to proactively remove GHG from the atmosphere. This package of bills will do that with an ambitious tree planting and forest management program and investments in carbon capture and storage technology through a Clean Energy Standard.

I urge you to join me as a co-sponsor of this important piece of legislation. If you have any questions, please contact my Policy Director, Micah Mahjoubian, at micah@pasenate.com.