U.S. Senators Look to Win the FUTURE (Act)

By ARMOND COHEN and TAYHAS PALMORE

Recently, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., joined with Senators Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., to unveil the FUTURE Act (Furthering Carbon Capture, Utilization, Technology, Underground Storage, and Reduced Emissions), which will accelerate the commercial deployment of technologies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and other industrial facilities.

This bipartisan legislation, which is supported by 21 other original co-sponsoring senators, represents an important step in addressing the urgent problem of climate change.

Rhode Island’s 400 miles of coast line puts us on the front line of climate change. Sea-level rise and extreme weather will have a significant impact on our shoreline, and inland areas as well. This problem has been hundreds of years in the making, beginning with the Industrial Revolution. Unfortunately, we only have a few decades to rework our global energy system to meet our needs with zero carbon-emitting technology if we hope to keep the worst impacts of climate change at bay.

Surely, we need more deployment of technologies such as wind and solar to combat this problem. Yet, relying solely on those options is a risky bet. We also need to develop and deploy technologies that capture carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel emissions and keep it from re-entering the atmosphere by geologically trapping it or turning it into valuable products. That’s why the FUTURE Act is important. This bill will reform a carbon capture and storage tax credit that was well-intended but poorly designed by increasing the level of incentives and expanding it to promote both the storage and the utilization of carbon dioxide.

Research into storage and utilization technologies, like the efforts underway by scientists at Brown University, will create affordable and scalable technologies that can be brought into the market by incentives such as those in the FUTURE Act. Developing low-cost ways to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions will help build the political support we need to adopt real limits on carbon emissions at home, facilitate sustainable technology use around the world, and make the big energy system changes we need to protect future generations.

Armond Cohen is the executive director of the Boston-based Clean Air Task Force. Tayhas Palmore is a Brown University professor in the School of Engineering.