Carbon Sequestration Legislation in the 116th Congress

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Updated February 21, 2020
Carbon Sequestration Legislation in the 116th Congress
Utilizing permanent underground storage of carbon dioxide
demonstration projects to exploring the use of sequestration
(CO2), also known as geological sequestration, as a
as a technically and commercially viable method for storing
potential strategy to reduce net greenhouse gas (GHG)
large volumes of captured CO2. The U.S. Department of
emissions is receiving increasing congressional attention.
Energy (DOE) leads the federal government’s R&D efforts
Proponents of geological sequestration of CO2 view the
in geological sequestration of CO2 as part of the agency’s
process as a promising method of reducing GHG emissions
fossil fuel programs. DOE’s work includes conducting
from stationary sources, such as coal-fired power plants,
fundamental laboratory research on wells, storage design,
while continuing to use fossil fuels as a source of
geological settings, and monitoring and assessment of the
electricity. Several bills introduced in the 116th Congress
injected CO2. DOE also sponsors numerous geological
would address geological sequestration policy issues,
sequestration testing and validation projects through
focusing on federal research and development (R&D) and
partnerships with the petroleum and chemical industries and
federal tax credits for storing carbon.
public and private research institutions. To date in the
United States, nine R&D projects have injected CO
Carbon Sequestration
2 into
underground formations in large-scale field tests of
Geological sequestration of CO2, a type of carbon storage,
permanent geological sequestration and storage associated
is the process of storing CO2 by injecting it into an
with EOR. Four of these projects are currently injecting
underground geological formation. Geological
and/or storing CO2.
sequestration is the final step in a carbon capture and
storage (CCS) system—sometimes referred to more
CCS Legislation in the 116th Congress
expansively as CCUS (carbon capture, utilization, and
Some Members of Congress have introduced legislation
storage). Geological sequestration is intended to trap CO2
intended to support geological sequestration R&D. (See
emitted from anthropogenic sources permanently
Table 1 for a list of legislation introduced in the 116th
underground and reduce net emissions of this GHG into the
Congress.) Several bills—S. 383/H.R. 1166, S. 1201, and
atmosphere. CO2 can also be stored underground when
H.R. 3607—would enhance DOE’s work in supporting
injected as part of oil and gas production (called enhanced
geological sequestration through continuation and/or
oil recovery, or EOR).
expansion of its CCS programs, including carbon storage
programs. These bills would amend current statutes to
In a CCS system, CO2 is captured from a stationary source,
direct DOE to develop and implement R&D programs
compressed into a fluid to allow for transportation by
related to geological sequestration methods, storage siting,
pipeline, and then injected through specially designed wells
and assessment of potential impacts. S. 1201 and H.R. 3607
into geological formations typically a half a mile or more
would also direct DOE to continue its partnership programs
below the Earth’s surface. An emerging technology to
for large-scale sequestration demonstration projects. S.
capture CO2 directly from the atmosphere—“direct air
383/H.R. 1166 and S. 1201 would require reports to
capture” (DAC)—could also serve as a source of CO2 for
Congress, such as a report from DOE on saline reservoir
geological sequestration. Subsurface geological formations
storage and a report from the Council on Environmental
across the United States could be suitable for large-scale
Quality on ways to facilitate development of CCS projects.
sequestration of CO2. These include, for example, deep
saline reservoirs (underground basins containing salty
Legislation addressing federal tax credits for carbon storage
fluids) and oil and gas reservoirs no longer in production.
is receiving significant industry attention. Two bills in the
CO2 may also be sequestered offshore in deep ocean waters
116th Congress—H.R. 5883 and S. 2263—would address
or under the seabed. When injected deep enough
these tax credits (see Table 1). H.R. 5883 would increase
underground, high pressures combined with impermeable
the tax credit for DAC facilities, remove the deadline for
rocks above the target formation are expected to keep the
beginning construction of a qualified facility, and reduce
CO2 from migrating upward into shallower groundwater or
the amount of carbon oxide required to be captured by
into other geological formations. For additional information
qualifying DAC facilities. S. 2263 would amend the federal
on the technical aspects of CCS, see CRS Report R44902,
tax code, Section 45Q, by changing what is considered
Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) in the United
“secure geological storage” of carbon oxide (a more general
States, by Peter Folger.
term covering CO2 and other oxides) and set out eligibility
requirements for tax credits for carbon oxide storage
Beyond Research and Development
associated with EOR.
Over the last decade, the focus of federal R&D efforts for
geological sequestration has shifted from small

link to page 2 Carbon Sequestration Legislation in the 116th Congress
Table 1. Carbon Sequestration Legislation Introduced in the 116th Congress
Short Title
Short Summary of Major Carbon Sequestration
H.R. 1166
Referred to House
Would amend the Clean Air Act by directing the U.S.
Subcommittees on the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct certain
carbon capture research activities. Would require the U.S.
Environment and Climate
Department of Energy (DOE) to submit a report to Congress on
Change; Highways and
the potential risks and benefits to project developers associated
Transit, Energy and
with increased storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) in deep saline
Mineral Resources; and
formations and recommendations for federal policy changes to
Water, Oceans, and
mitigate identified risks. Would direct the Council on
Environmental Quality (CEQ) to prepare a report and issue
guidance on development of carbon dioxide pipelines and storage
H.R. 3607
Fossil Energy
House Science, Space, and Would amend the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to direct DOE to
Research and
Technology Committee
carry out a program of research, development, and
voted favorably for bil to
demonstration for carbon capture and storage (CCS) and conduct
Act of 2019
be reported
large-scale carbon sequestration partnerships through the
Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships.
H.R. 5883
[No bil title]
Referred to the House
Would amend the Internal Revenue Code Section 45Q to
Committee on Ways and
increase the tax credit for direct air capture (DAC) facilities,
remove the deadline for beginning construction of a qualified
facility, and reduce the amount of carbon oxide required to be
captured by qualifying DAC facilities.
S. 383
Written report from the
Would amend the Clean Air Act by directing EPA to conduct
Committee on
certain carbon capture research activities. Would require DOE to
Environment and Public
submit a report to Congress on the potential risks and benefits to
Works filed in Senatea
project developers associated with increased storage of CO2 in
deep saline formations and recommendations for federal policy
changes to mitigate identified risks. Would direct the CEQ to
prepare a report and issue guidance on development of carbon
dioxide pipelines and storage projects.
S. 1201
Placed on Senate
Would amend the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58) to
Legislative Calendar
direct DOE to carry out CCS research and development
programs. Would require DOE to submit a report to Congress
on CCS activities. Would establish an optional program to
transition large-scale carbon sequestration demonstration
projects into integrated commercial storage complexes.
S. 2263
CO2 Regulatory
Referred to Committee
Would amend the Internal Revenue Code, Section 45Q, to revise
Certainty Act
on Finance
the requirements for the secure geological storage of carbon
oxide for the purpose of the tax credits for permanent
sequestration and enhanced oil recovery. Would require the
Treasury Department to establish regulations setting out these
requirements, including compliance with federal environmental
statutes and regulations.
Source: and CRS analysis.
Notes: This In Focus outlines carbon storage through sequestration. These bil s (and others) also encompass provisions that cover carbon
capture and/or utilization.
a. A version of S. 383 was incorporated into S. 1790, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, which became law on
December 20, 2019 (P.L. 116-92), and S. 2302, America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act, which was reported in the Senate on January
8, 2020.

Angela C. Jones, Analyst in Environmental Policy

Carbon Sequestration Legislation in the 116th Congress

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