July 14, 2021

Senate Energy Committee Advances Energy Infrastructure Bill, Cassidy Secures Wins for Louisiana’s Energy Future

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, voted to advance a bill to invest in the energy and outdoor infrastructure of the United States to deploy new and innovative technologies, update existing infrastructure to be reliable and resilient, and secure energy infrastructure against physical and cyberthreats, and for other purposes. The Storing CO2 and Lowering Emissions (SCALE) Act was included as part of the larger energy infrastructure package advanced. The landmark bill was first introduced by Cassidy and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) in March to drive deployment of carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technology and the vital accompanying infrastructure in the United States. This bill represents the largest government investment in CCUS infrastructure in U.S. history. 

“Louisiana is an energy powerhouse and this bill puts Louisiana in the center of our energy future. Passing this bill through committee is great news for our Louisiana workers and our economy,” said Dr. Cassidy

Cassidy also secured and championed the inclusion of the following provisions:

  • Hydrogen Hubs: the creation of regional clean hydrogen hubs to demonstrate the production, processing, delivery, storage, and end-use of clean hydrogen. This program is tailor made for Louisiana’s industry, existing infrastructure, and energy sector.
  • Geologic Carbon Sequestration on the Outer Continental Shelf: this allows the U.S. Department of the Interior to permit geologic carbon sequestration on the outer Continental Shelf and will unlock new industries for Louisiana and ensuring the ability to store carbon dioxide.
  • Demonstration Projects: support the development of key energy technologies including advanced nuclear reactors, carbon capture, critical minerals, energy storage, and industrial emissions infrastructure.
  • Civil Nuclear Credit Program: This section provides the U.S. Department of Energy with the authority, in consultation with the heads of applicable Federal agencies, to establish a process to evaluate bids through an auction process and select certified nuclear reactors to be allocated credits. This ensures vital existing nuclear sources like those in Louisiana is kept online and provides reliable, resilient and clean energy.
  • Direct Air Capture Hubs for Carbon Removal: This section authorizes regional direct air capture hubs to aid the capturing of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This carves out a pathway for Louisiana to lead in carbon removal and decarbonization while maintaining and growing existing industries and infrastructure.
  • Ecosystem Grant Program Funding: This includes funds for 1) the Secretary of Interior to provide funds to states, Indian Tribes and territories to implement voluntary cross-boundary ecosystem restoration projects on private or public land; and 2) invasive species detection, prevention, and eradication. 

Background on SCALE Act

How the SCALE Act supports carbon capture: Interconnected CO2 transport systems that collect CO2 from capture sources and deliver it to shared CO2 storage sites are the key backbone infrastructure needed for widespread carbon capture deployment at the necessary scale to achieve economy-wide emissions reductions. Yet, deployment of CO2 infrastructure faces critical cost barriers that require federal support to overcome. Many countries and regions, including the European Union, the UK, Norway, Australia, and Canada, have already committed billions to construct CO2 transport and storage infrastructure to decarbonize heavy industry, and the United States is currently lagging behind. The SCALE Act would provide the federal support needed to kick-start a CO2 transport and storage infrastructure build-out over the next decade to get the United States back on track. This new transport infrastructure will enable CO2 to be transported from the site of capture to locations where it can be used or stored safely underground.

Louisiana already has two critical pieces in place to become a significant national hub for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) – a sizable industrial base that would benefit economically from CCS options to help manage its carbon emissions, and large-scale geologic storage opportunities with immense potential for total storage.

The state’s existing refining and petrochemical industries can move quickly on carbon capture deployment due to key existing industrial processes producing relatively pure streams of CO2, low costs of capture, advantages of scale, and existing expertise. However, the CO2 pipeline and transportation hub infrastructure will need further investment to make the connections between generators of CO2 and storage opportunities. 

Louisiana already has the nation’s greatest density of industrial gas and petroleum products pipelines, providing rights of way and built-in transportation expertise can be harnessed to support the buildout of CO2 pipeline infrastructure networks to serve that industrial base.

Encouraging new investment to make CO2 transportation more accessible and affordable to companies will both help protect existing jobs and established economic assets, creating new opportunities for companies and workers as CCS projects come online and more industries make use of Louisiana’s storage options.

To support carbon capture and job growth, the SCALE Act would:

  • Establish the CO2 Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (CIFIA) program, which will provide flexible, low-interest loans for CO2 transport infrastructure projects and grants for initial excess capacity on new infrastructure to facilitate future growth. Modeled after the existing TIFIA and WIFIA programs for highway and water infrastructure, CIFIA will help facilitate private sector investment in infrastructure critical for reaching net-zero emissions. The bill also includes grants for Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) studies for CO2 transport infrastructure.
  • Build upon the existing Department of Energy (DOE) CarbonSAFE program to provide cost sharing for deployment of commercial-scale saline geologic CO2 storage projects. The program would give priority to larger, commercial saline geologic storage projects that will serve as hubs for storing CO2 from multiple carbon capture facilities.
  • Authorize increased funding to EPA for permitting Class VI CO2 storage wells in saline geologic formations and providing grants for states to establish their own Class VI permitting programs to ensure rigorous and efficient CO2 geologic storage site permitting.
  • Provide grants to state and local governments for procuring CO2 utilization products and support state and local programs that create demand for materials, fuels, and other products made from captured carbon. The bill also adds the objective of developing standards and certifications for products that use CO2 to DOE’s carbon utilization program. 

In the Senate, the bill is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN), John Hoeven (R-ND), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Mike Braun (R-IN), Jon Tester (D-MT), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Joe Manchin (D-WV), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Martin Heinrich (D-NM). Companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives was introduced by U.S. Representatives Marc Veasey (D-TX-33) and David McKinley (R-WV-01).