Thursday, June 16, 2022
Thank you, Jeff, for that gracious introduction. And let me thank everyone at the Global CCS Institute for having me here today—particularly Jarad Daniels, who is just the Energizer Bunny of carbon management. Even after a 30-year career at the Department of Energy, he just keeps going and going and going.
It’s a pleasure to join this 10th Annual DC Forum—and I’m thrilled to see such a packed house. Clearly, the two-year hiatus has just left folks all the more eager to hear these discussions.
Little wonder why. Following decades of R&D and early commercial deployment, carbon capture and storage—and carbon management more broadly—is finally having the big moment we all believe it needs.
Beyond the folks in this room, the commentary we all just heard from Vicki Hollub really tells the story.
I’ve met with lots of Oil and Gas industry executives in the last year and a half. And I’ve constantly tried to impress upon them the need to look to the future… to get their businesses skating to where the puck is going… to diversify their portfolio from just oil and gas into broader energy offerings.
Under Vicki’s leadership, Oxy is doing just that.
They’re making real investments in carbon management technologies, and aggressively demonstrating technology to remove carbon dioxide from the air.
Not so they can just keep drilling… and not simply to prepare for and survive the clean energy transition we all know is coming… but so they can thrive on the other side.
Vicki’s message, and the actions she’s guiding her company to take, reflect exactly the kind of bold thinking we need more of.
And so I’m delighted to share the stage with her today… and tell you about the bold thinking driving the Biden administration’s climate and clean energy agenda.
This agenda is facing real headwinds. But it’s never been more essential to the country’s long-term health.
Think about everything happening in the world of energy today.
Empowered by global reliance on Russian oil and natural gas, Vladimir Putin has unleashed chaos and tragedy in Ukraine.
His war has roiled energy markets that were already reeling from supply chain pressures created by COVID-19.
And it’s left all too many families straining to make ends meet.
At the same time, we’re facing the imperative of the climate crisis—an imperative that doesn’t go on hold when other global conflicts emerge.
Every month we receive another dire warning, whether by analysts with the UN or by even more extreme weather—like the heat wave that left 120 million Americans under an extreme heat threat this week.
The math on the carbon budget is simple. We have to cut emissions essentially in half by the end of this decade to avoid the worst of climate change.
But there is still hope that we can address climate change, steel ourselves against future security threats, and recover from the pandemic at the same time.
That hope lies in clean energy.
Since President Biden’s inauguration, this administration has made clean energy innovation and deployment a top priority.
We’re pursuing the most ambitious goals for climate action in history: cut emissions in half by 2030, reach 100% clean electricity by 2035, and achieve net zero by 2050.
And meeting these goals will help us create millions of new, good-paying jobs that will be in demand for decades to come.
Much of the world sees the opportunity. Over 70 countries—accounting for around 70 percent of the world’s population—have announced net-zero plans.
There’s no one single solution here. Instead, we need to use a broad range of technologies to hit these targets.
Some are ready to go right now: Solar, Wind, EVs … As my colleagues can tell you, my mantra is deploy, deploy, deploy.
And those renewable options have to be our priority. They are our priority.
But renewable options alone won’t cut it. They won’t allow us to decarbonize at the speed and cost necessary to meet the moment.
And they don’t address emissions from the fossil fuel infrastructure that we’re currently using to meet our energy needs, nor from key industrial processes.
The climate science is unequivocal.
We cannot meet President Biden’s climate goals, or the global 1.5° C target agreed to in Paris, without economy wide deployment of carbon capture and carbon removal at scale.
In fact, the International Energy Agency projects that by 2030, we need to be locking away 1.15 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. That’s up nearly 30-fold over what we’re managing around the world today.
We simply have to get moving. And that’s why President Biden considers developing, demonstrating, and deploying carbon capture and carbon removal technologies a high priority.
He made that clear in his campaign, and he’s made that clear to his entire administration.
Now, I know this leaves some folks uneasy.
I know the skepticism around these technologies. I’ve heard the criticisms. The concerns that carbon capture is little more than a distraction from tough choices we can’t delay making.
And I understand where they’re coming from.
Ultimately, carbon management technologies offer us tools. And like a hammer or a hatchet, these tools are only as helpful or hurtful as how carefully and responsibly you use them.
So there’s no question we have to make sure our use of these technologies won’t cause harm to our communities.
But think about what we could do with carbon capture and carbon removal.
Decarbonizing steel… cement… chemicals… aviation… agriculture—things we simply cannot live without, yet add emissions we just can’t live with.
Generating clean hydrogen—and opening the door to low-carbon transportation fuel, energy storage, 24/7 baseload power, and more…
And, yes, repositioning today’s fossil energy companies, like Oxy, into more diverse energy and carbon management companies… so they—and more importantly, their workers—have a real place in the net-zero economy.
We can use these carbon management tools to unlock gigantic opportunities.
And that’s what this administration—and the Department of Energy—intends to use them for.
We’ve taken some important steps in the last eighteen months.
We brought in the person who literally wrote the book on carbon capture—Dr. Jen Wilcox—to help lead our Office of Fossil Energy… And then transformed it into our Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management.
Its central focus has shifted over time from simply increasing fossil fuel production in the US… to advancing the approaches and technologies that will minimize climate and environmental impacts from our continued—yet also, over time, shrinking—dependence on fossil fuels.
Over the last two decades, that office has overseen billions of dollars of investment into carbon management technologies.
They’ve run successful demonstration projects… and proven the viability of geologic storage—putting millions of tons of carbon dioxide underground to demonstrate how the world can do this safely and effectively.
In the years ahead, they’ll widen the horizons of this space even more… Starting with our Carbon Removal Shot, the third of our ambitious Energy Earthshots.
With our Carbon Removal Shot, we’ve set the goal of achieving durable and scalable carbon dioxide removal for less than $100 per net metric ton within a decade.
This will speed up development of carbon removal strategies, make sure they’re deployed responsibly, help build an industry around them, and create jobs—particularly for highly skilled fossil energy workers.
Next month, I hope you’ll join us for our Carbon Removal Shot Summit, where we’ll outline the challenges ahead and begin conversations around overcoming them.
Yet our most impactful work will come in the shorter-term.
Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we now have over $12 billion to invest in next-generation carbon capture, direct air capture and industrial emission reduction demonstration projects… along with CO2 transport and storage infrastructure.
I know my colleague, Brad Crabtree—who serves as our Assistant Secretary for the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management and understands as well as anyone the complexity of standing up this technology—will be speaking later. He’ll share more detail around these projects.
But the core takeaway is that President Biden has made good on his commitments to advance these technologies with the largest direct federal investment they’ve ever received.
Under this administration, we are all in on making this technology work at the right cost and deploying it at scale.
Of course, we know we’ll be able to accomplish that faster with the help of key partners.
Ultimately, our vision involves testing these technologies both inside and outside of the United States… building up as much of the necessary supply chains as we can here, and filling any gaps with allies who share our values… and then, when we’ve successfully commercialized these technologies, exporting them all over the globe.
Not only does this open the door to a whole host of good-paying, high-skill jobs… It gives us a chance to rectify some of the wrongs of our fossil fuel dependence.
Because, along with carbon dioxide, we can develop this technology to clean the air of other pollutants… And we can use it as a tool for advancing equity, deploying it in collaboration with communities living in the shadows of fossil fuel refineries.
I applaud the Institute for devoting a session of this year’s Forum agenda to discussing the potential here. And I’ll point you to Bakersfield, California to see it playing out.
There, DOE is supporting community action groups and other local stakeholders working to create new opportunities for carbon capture and storage—along with local schools devoting resources to train the next-generation carbon management workforce.
This is what President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative looks like in action.
And as we invest those billions from the Infrastructure Law, we’ll prioritize proposals that offer the promise of environmental justice, economic revitalization, job creation, and, of course, climate action. Our financial assistance will come with strings tied back to community benefits.
So our hope is that these direct federal investments from the Infrastructure Law will crack the cost-effective code for carbon management technologies.
But ultimately, these technologies will only go as far as the private sector will take them. We need more businesses like Oxy jumping in feet-first.
I know there are other policies that could spur broader private sector engagement. Enhancements to the 45Q tax credit could transform the market—offering unparalleled certainty for an emerging carbon management industry and incentivizing private sector investment needed to drastically speed deployment.
And I will say that I’m optimistic we’ll see movement here.
In conversations on Capitol Hill around the design of the Infrastructure Law, you could hear a level of broad, bipartisan agreement on carbon management that just doesn’t emerge that often these days.
From progressive Democrats to conservative Republicans, there’s a real belief in the potential for these technologies… and a desire to get this right.
So I’m asking you to help us get it right. Work with us. Send us your ideas, your proposals. Tell us what we’re missing.
Your efforts delivered carbon capture and carbon removal to this big moment. Together, we can make the most of it.
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