Last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its newest report to underscore what we already know: Climate chaos is coming for us if we don’t change fast. But the fossil fuel industry is taking advantage of our fear. They’re using slick marketing to sell schemes that will actually extend our reliance on fossil fuels.
One of those schemes is carbon capture and storage. And if industry gets its way, it will suck up hundreds of billions of our taxpayer dollars. And many of our elected officials have embraced this dangerous distraction from the real change we need.
Our government is currently poised to waste huge sums of cash on a technology that will worsen our climate crisis, not fight it. In doing so, it will line the pockets of companies that caused the crisis in the first place. But with your help, we’ll change all that.
Why Are We Fighting Carbon Capture?
Carbon capture and storage technology is meant to pull CO2 from smokestacks and store it deep underground. This is supposed to keep the carbon out of the atmosphere.
But in practice, carbon capture has only failed — and at huge cost to taxpayers and the environment.
For one, carbon capture tech needs a lot of energy to run, and much of that energy comes from extracting and producing more fossil fuels. In fact, power generation plus carbon capture has a bigger climate impact than burning gas or coal alone.
What’s more, what carbon we do capture goes to a practice called enhanced oil recovery (EOR). With EOR, companies inject captured carbon into the ground to push more fossil fuels to the surface. In the U.S., 95% of our captured CO2 goes to extracting more oil in this way.
Fossil fuel corporations know this technology isn’t a climate savior. But they don’t care because for them, it’s a lifeline. If they can convince officials and the public that carbon capture will save the planet, they can carry on extracting and polluting, business-as-usual.
What’s at Stake With Our Cash and Our Climate?
Not only have dirty energy companies convinced officials to support carbon capture — they’ve gotten us taxpayers to foot the bill.
Before the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, the government spent $17.8 billion of public funds on carbon capture. Yet, we have little to show for this investment. Every project has failed to meet its promises on how much carbon it could capture. In fact, U.S. carbon capture has led to more CO2 emitted than captured.
In recent years, much of our carbon capture funding has traveled through a tax credit program called 45Q. Since 45Q’s inception, companies have claimed an estimated $2 billion through the credit.*
But 45Q has serious oversight problems. In 2020, the Treasury Department found that companies claimed nearly $900 million in 45Q credits without proof that their projects were effectively storing CO2. Then, in 2021, the Government Accountability Office found that the Energy Department spent nearly $300 million on four projects that were never even built.
Despite these glaring problems, the Inflation Reduction Act grew 45Q. Now, companies can receive more tax credits for claiming to capture and store CO2. The IRA also boosted the credit for enhanced oil recovery. In other words, we’re paying companies to drill more oil under the guise of “storing” the CO2 underground.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the new 45Q program will cost $3.2 billion over the next decade. But this number could be much, much higher, because the IRA doesn’t limit how much money the government can spend on 45Q.
Ultimately, these tax credits are a costly distraction from deploying cheap renewables that won’t pollute our climate to begin with.
How Will We Tackle Carbon Capture?
So far, our leaders have fallen into the fossil fuel industry’s trap.
President Biden has marshaled a huge amount of funding for carbon capture through legislation like the Inflation Reduction Act. His agencies, like the Department of Energy under Secretary Jennifer Granholm, are promoting carbon capture, too. So we’re demanding that Biden and his agencies look at the facts and reject carbon capture.
We’re also getting our message to Congress, starting with 45Q. We need the House Oversight Committee and the Government Accountability Office to investigate 45Q. We know the program is vulnerable to fraud, and we know it will squander our tax dollars on more bogus projects.
Luckily, we can see through the fossil fuel industry’s smoke and mirrors. Now, we need to help our elected officials to see through them, too. We’re calling on them to shut down this climate scam and stop wasting our taxpayer dollars on it.
If climate-friendly Congressmembers really want to help us avoid climate chaos, they won’t pour our tax dollars down the drain for carbon capture.
We Need Your Help to Stop This Carbon Capture Scam!
Unfortunately, our elected officials have heard a lot from the fossil fuel industry about carbon capture. But they haven’t heard enough from us, the constituents they’re meant to serve.
Here’s how we’re changing that.
1. We’re calling our representatives.
Leading up to the April 18 tax filing deadline, we’re hosting a Tax Day Call-in Week. You can sign up to call your rep and let them know that taxpayer money should not subsidize the oil and gas industry.
2. We’re sending folks to Congress.
In the coming weeks, we’ll arrange opportunities for our members and volunteers to meet with representatives. We’ll help you craft your message and deliver letters personally to officials.
3. We’re bringing our friends along with us.
The fossil fuel industry’s connections in Washington have given lobbyists and execs a head start on shaping the story around carbon capture. We can’t let them take over.
With your help, we’ll spread the word to as many people and organizations as possible. By bringing friends to events and inviting them to call-in days, you can help us build the people power we need.
We won’t fall for this climate scam. We’re calling for an end to carbon capture subsidies and for investment in REAL climate solutions.
Join us next week for our Tax Day Week of Action!