Carbon Capture Faces Uncertain Future Amid Sisyphean Governmental Delays

Two years after passing a rare tax subsidy for CO2-sucking companies, the U.S. government still hasn’t figured out a way to pay them.

In 2018, Congress passed the 45Q Tax Credit for Carbon Capture Projects, a first-of-its-kind government incentive for companies that use carbon capture technology, one of the oil industry’s favorite climate change solutions.

The new law is one of the few bipartisan climate policies to make it through the quagmire of post-Trumpian politics –– and somewhat unsurprisingly, things aren’t looking so good financially for those who invested in the government’s double-edged promise, The New York Times reports.

For those unfamiliar, carbon capture uses massive machines to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere, then stores it in places like geologic formations, oil fields, and saltwater reservoirs. Other methods of carbon capture incorporate extracted CO2 into products like fuels, chemicals, and concrete. All promise to help humankind avoid some of the worst effects of climate change, while still kiiind of keeping cozy with the fossil fuel industry.

Now, two years after the 45Q tax credit was passed, carbon capture investors, including fertilizer manufactures, factories, and fuel refineries across the country say they’re still waiting to get paid for their investments.

The reason for the delay in funding: The IRS simply hasn’t gotten around to writing rules for the new tax law, including the necessary guidelines, regulations, and penalties required to enforce it. Meanwhile, the EPA apparently can’t stop fighting with environmental groups over what the rules for carbon capture should be, with many worrying that the end result will ultimately lead to more oil and petroleum flooding the U.S. market.

Meanwhile, sites in North Dakota, Texas, Indiana, New Mexico and others––who have already shelled out big bucks for their promised tax breaks––are having to delay, re-focus, or even cancel plans for carbon capture facilities.

The clock is ticking for the planet, too. Last year, the International Energy Agency suggested that countries need to capture 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year by 2040 to help keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. How are we going to do that if our government can’t even pay for a giant CO2 sucker for its oil industry allies?

Read more on The New York Times.