The US’s fossil fuels research office has a radical new mission: Cleaning up the mess
Now it has the responsibility to help clean up the industry.
In July, the agency, which has about 600 employees and a budget of about $900 million, added “and Carbon Management” to its name, signaling a key part of its new mission: to help advance technology. and build an industry that can stop the release of carbon dioxide from power plants and factories, suck it out of the air, and transport and store it permanently.
The Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) continues to operate a research division focused on oil, gas and coal production. But it’s now named the Office of Resource Sustainability and its central mission is to minimize the impacts from the production of those fossil fuels, said Jennifer Wilcox, a carbon removals researcher who joined the office at the start of the Biden administration, said. She is currently FECM’s principal deputy assistant secretary, overseeing both research and development departments alongside Brad Crabtree, the office’s assistant secretary.
FECM’s efforts will be driven by a series of recent federal laws, including Inflation Reduction Actwhich significant increase tax subsidies for carbon capture, removal and storage. The Science and CHIPS Act, signed into law in August, authority (but not really Fit) $1 billion for carbon removal research and development at FECM. But most notably is the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Biden enacts by the end of 2021 that will direct about $12 billion toward carbon capture and removal, including pipelines and facilities. storage.
The FECM will play a key role in determining where most of the money is going.
After the infrastructure law was passed, the Department of Energy announced $2.5 billion investment to accelerate and validate ways to safely store carbon dioxide in underground formations, as well as to fund $3.5 billion in test and demonstration projects aimed at blocking nearly all of the gas. carbon emissions from fossil fuel power plants and industrial facilities, such as factories that produce cement, pulp and paper, and iron and steel. It also moved forward with a $3.5 billion program developing four regional centers for direct air capture projects, striving to develop plants that can suck at least 1 million tons of carbon dioxide from the air each year.
Last week, I spoke with Wilcox and Noah Deichdeputy assistant secretary for carbon management in the FECM, on the new direction at the Department of Energy where billions of dollars will be invested and how they are working to address concerns about carbon capture and the harms being done. take place from fossil fuels.
‘We need to invest today’
Wilcox and Deich faced a difficult balancing act.