TEXAS VIEW: Texas has a chance to be a climate leader in carbon capture technology

THE POINT: The environmental push against carbon capture is stunningly shortsighted.

For years, some environmentalists trumpeted the benefits of carbon capture and storage to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with climate change.

The irony though is that as major energy companies and the state of Texas embrace the emerging technology, some environmentalists argue that the technology isn’t ready for prime time, is too expensive, is a red herring to allow energy companies to delay transitions from fossil fuel production, and that Texas’ history of cozy regulation of the energy industry would pose the potential for safety and other abuses.

This opposition has been brewing since 2021 when 500 environmental organizations in the United States and Canada, many of whom had backed carbon capture technology previously, turned against its use in a letter to the two governments. Since then, some environmentalists in Texas and in Washington have sought to slow-walk reviews and adoption of carbon capture technologies. Both Washington and Texas have to do a better job of reviewing carbon capture and storage proposals in a timely manner.

We hear the concerns, but think it’s time for some pragmatism. Given that fossil fuels will be part of energy production for years to come, Texas, private industry and the federal government are right to pursue the development of additional carbon capture and storage facilities.

Carbon capture technology has support from many Democrats and Republicans, including President Joe Biden, as well as most energy companies. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Energy announced up to $1.2 billion to advance the development of two commercial-scale direct air capture facilities in Texas and Louisiana, an initiative that the Biden administration describes as the world’s largest investment in engineered carbon removal.

This investment, and opportunities for federal tax credits to support carbon capture projects, could significantly jumpstart public and private sector investments in what could be a multitrillion industry to address the climate crisis. And it’s not just a benefit for energy companies, but also for steel, cement, refineries and chemical firms that produce carbon emissions.

Texas has an opportunity to be at the epicenter of a carbon reduction industry that allows major energy companies to establish carbon capture and storage operations next to onshore gas wells or obtain offshore leases that would allow them to store carbon dioxide in the Gulf of Mexico. For example, ExxonMobil, which has the largest owned and operated carbon dioxide pipeline network in the country, recently acquired Denbury Inc., a sequestration firm, as part of its broader commercial and industrial carbon reduction strategy.

The world needs to embrace wind, solar and other technologies to reduce the carbon footprint. However, oil and gas production is integral to the world economy and can’t be abandoned overnight without cratering the global economy.

Carbon capture and storage technologies aren’t the sole answers to the challenges of climate change and carbon emissions but have to be part of the solution.

The Dallas Morning News