Last Wednesday Democratic Senators Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Brian Schatz of Hawaii introduced legislation that would tax carbon emissions in the United States, and return the revenues to citizens through rebates and other tax reductions. A carbon tax is a common policy prescription for dealing with climate change, but the “American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act,” includes one provision that no other proposed climate legislation has covered: it offers incentives to technologies that recycle carbon dioxide.
For the first time an emissions-reduction bill includes carbon capture and utilization (CCU) as an accepted method for power plants and other industries to achieve CO2 reductions. Algae cultivation and harvesting technology is just one of many approaches that can use carbon dioxide as a feedstock for plastics, biofuels, chemicals and other products.
Only recently has the process of CCU been recognized in Washington, DC for its potential to meaningfully contribute to emissions reductions, and do so at a profit, since the products that can be made from carbon dioxide have huge markets.
Senators Whitehouse and Schatz are among the first to include CCU in serious legislation. They deserve thanks for their foresight and hard work introducing this concept into the consciousness of policy makers.
The American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act is a chance to have a discussion about dealing with climate change in a way that protects our environment and allows for innovation across industries. The Algae Biomass Organization is grateful that supporters of this legislation have also acknowledged the important role that new and emerging technologies can have in making all our lives better.