On June 25, President Obama issued the Climate Action Plan to expand the federal government’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and combat climate change.  In addition to focusing on regulating GHG emissions from new and existing power plants, the President’s plan reinforces support for fossil-fuel generation combined with  carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies.  CCS is the process of capturing CO2 from large industrial facilities, such as power plants, and storing it permanently underground, usually via a transport pipeline and injection well system.  The President’s plan would affect CCS by:

  • Making $8 billion in loan guarantee authority available for advanced fossil energy projects, such as CCS, under the Section 1703 loan guarantee program.  The Department of Energy plans to issue a final solicitation in the Federal Register by Fall 2013.  Section 1703 of Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorizes the Department of Energy to issue loans for innovative clean energy technologies that typically are unable to obtain conventional private financing due to technology risks.
  • Ending governmental support for public financing of new coal plants overseas unless the facility uses CCS or, for the poorest countries, certain other technologies.
  • Continuing to work with China, India, and other countries to advance the development and deployment of clean coal technologies.

In a complimentary report issued on June 26, the U.S. Geological Survey determined that the United States has the potential to store a mean of 3,000 metric gigatons of CO2 in geologic basins throughout the country.  The report was touted by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell as “groundbreaking” because “[i]f enough of this capacity also proves to be environmentally and economically viable, then geologic carbon sequestration could help us reduce carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to climate change.”