The US government will hand out up to $1.2 billion for companies to suck greenhouse gases out of the air
- The US is launching the largest ever carbon-removal initiative in the world.
- Once built, facilities in Texas and Louisiana will suck carbon dioxide pollution from the air.
The Biden Administration is investing up to $1.2 billion for companies to suck greenhouse gases out of the air — the biggest investment in carbon removal in history, the US Department of Energy announced in a press release on Friday.
The DOE said that the initiative will begin with two large-scale carbon removal facilities in Texas and Louisiana, before eventually expanding to more sites across the US.
"Cutting back on our carbon emissions alone won't reverse the growing impacts of climate change," US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said in the press release. "We also need to remove the CO2 that we've already put in the atmosphere — which nearly every climate model makes clear is essential to achieving a net-zero global economy by 2050."
The money will boost the development of two direct air capture (DAC) sites — Project Cypress in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, and the South Texas DAC Hub in Kleberg County, Texas — which won a call for proposal that attracted 14 projects.
Together, these two facilities are expected to remove 2 million metric tons of CO2 emissions every year, about the same amount of emissions that 445,000 gas-powered cars pump into the atmosphere, according to the press release.
The money will come out of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, for which Congress has already appropriated $3.5 billion. This law plans for the construction of two more domestic Regional DAC Hubs, per the
Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations.
The project will also create 4,800 "good-paying" jobs in both states, the press release states. The Louisiana site plans to recruit 10% of its workforce from employees formerly working in the fossil fuel industry, per the release.
Granholm said in the announcement that with this "once-in-a-generation investment," the DOE "is laying the foundation for a direct air capture industry crucial to tackling climate change — transforming local economies and delivering healthier communities along the way."
How direct air capture differs from carbon capture technology
Unlike carbon capture technology, which captures carbon as its being produced by a facility before it reaches the atmosphere, direct air capture acts like a giant air purifier, separating carbon that is already in the air and pumping it underground or into rocks for permanent storage.
The Texas site believes it could store up to 3 billion metric tons of CO2 in saline formations under the hub.
These sites are part of a four-pronged plan pushed by the Biden-Harris administration to limit warming to just no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, by reducing emissions by 50% to 52% by 2030.
To do so, the administration is focussing on decarbonizing energy, ending deforestation, reducing non-carbon greenhouse gas emissions, and improving carbon management, US President Joe Biden said in a speech in April.
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