Bennet bill seeks more capturing 
of CO2

A bipartisan measure being carried by U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and a Republican senator from Ohio aims to boost capture and storage of carbon dioxide, which would not only keep it out of the atmosphere but make it available for use in boosting oil production.

Bennet, D-Colo., and Sen. Rob Portman introduced the Carbon Capture Improvement Act last month. It would help power plants and industrial facilities finance the purchase and installation of carbon capture and storage equipment. Businesses would be able to make use of private activity bonds, which typically are used by local or state governments, are tax-exempt, and can be paid back over a longer period of time.

The captured carbon dioxide could be stored underground or used by energy companies in a process known as enhanced oil recovery.

“This bill would reduce upfront costs, one of the largest impediments to carbon capture technology. It is good for the economy and good for the environment,” Bennet said in a recent news release. “In Colorado it would enhance our diverse energy portfolio. The captured carbon dioxide can be used by oil producers to extract more oil out of current wells — improving our energy security and boosting domestic energy production. It also reduces emissions from power plants and industrial facilities to help keep our air clean — which is something that Coloradans value and makes our state an attractive place to live.

“This bipartisan bill is a market-based, technology-neutral approach to attacking the problem that carbon dioxide creates.”

While carbon emissions are a focus of global concern, and of international talks in Paris this week, because of their role in climate change, energy companies can put carbon dioxide to use by injecting it into existing wells to increase production. Bennet’s office notes that this means less new land is needed for oil production.

Bennet spokesman Adam Bozzi said that according to the Department of Energy, Colorado’s oil fields have 1.8 billion barrels of oil remaining in them, and more than 30 percent of that oil could be recovered through enhanced oil recovery efforts. He said Chevron has been using the technique in the Rangely oil field since 1986. Oil production is decreasing in the aging field, but Chevron has estimated enhanced oil recovery will let it recover another 114 million barrels there, Bozzi said.

Bennet’s office says the 21st Century Energy Institute at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found in 2014 that enhanced oil recovery already accounted for 350,000 barrels a day of domestic oil production.

Bozzi noted that in October, the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, based in Westminster, pledged $5 million to Wyoming’s Integrated Test Center. It will be located at a Gillette power plant, and will allow for research into commercially viable uses for carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. Bozzi said the XPRIZE Foundation recently announced a $20 million competition to develop new technology at the test center.

He said the legislation would benefit not just coal-fired plants, but natural gas developers, industrial manufacturers and any other producers of carbon.

Under the legislation, if more than 65 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from a facility are captured, 100 percent of the eligible equipment could be financed with private activity bonds. If less than 65 percent is captured, tax-exempt financing would be permitted on a pro-rated basis.

The legislation is winning support from entities ranging from the Clean Air Task Force to the North American Carbon Capture Storage Association, an energy-industry group that estimates carbon dioxide could be used to recover more than an additional 20 billion barrels of oil from mature fields.

The broad-based National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative thanked Bennet and Portman on its website for their legislation.

“Access to tax-exempt private activity bonds will provide project developers an important tool in a broader tool kit of measures needed to help attract private investment and finance carbon capture projects.

“The industry, labor, environmental, and state representatives of NEORI support federal policies to lower economic barriers to capturing carbon dioxide from power plants and industrial facilities for use in enhanced oil recovery … and look forward to working on a bipartisan basis with senators Bennet and Portman, their colleagues in Congress, and the president to advance legislation that will increase American oil production, create jobs and economic growth, deploy innovative carbon capture technologies, and safely store CO2 underground.”


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