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The Bipartisan SCALE Act: Increasing Investments in CCUS

Today, March 17, 2021, a bipartisan group of legislators introduced groundbreaking legislation aimed at advancing investments in large-scale carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) projects. The Storing CO2 and Lowering Emissions (SCALE) Act is cosponsored in the Senate by Chris Coons (D-DE), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Cindy Hyde Smith (R-MS), John Hoeven (R-ND), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Mike Braun (R-IN), Jon Tester (R-MT), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Joe Manchin (D-WV), and in the House of Representatives by Marc Veasey (D-TX) and David McKinley (R-WV). This bill supports development of the transport infrastructure that is key to scaling up much-needed CCUS as well as carbon storage programs. It is a critical component of the clean energy transition and achieving a net-zero emission economy, which is a primary goal of the Biden Administration’s fight against climate change.

To achieve its objective of increasing investments in CCUS, the SCALE Act creates a new federal loan and credit program for large-scale CCUS projects that have been historically challenging to finance, called the CIFIA program (carbon dioxide transportation infrastructure finance and innovation program). CIFIA is modeled after the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA), which provides credit for transportation projects of regional and national significance. Governmental entities and public utilities undertaking carbon utilization projects are eligible to participate in the CIFIA program. 

Carbon transportation projects eligible for CIFIA consist of common carrier projects (i.e., projects providing public transportation services) with a minimum project cost of $100 million.  CIFIA does not impose limitations on specific modes of transport of the CO2: any project that meets the cost threshold, be it pipeline, trucking, rail, or shipping, is eligible. CIFIA does, however, require that transportation projects exclusively use iron, steel, and manufactured goods produced in the United States. The bill authorizes $4.9 billion over five years for transport and geologic storage projects, for CO2 use in manufacturing or sequestration.

While this bill is bipartisan, it is in very early stages. President Biden has made the clean energy transition a primary pillar of his agenda, which smooths the path forward for legislation such as the SCALE Act. Certain industries are notoriously challenging to decarbonize, and strong federal investment in CCUS is vital to ultimately achieving net-zero emissions by midcentury.

© 2022 Bracewell LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 77
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About this Author

Anna Burhop Attorney Energy Regulations Lawyer Bracewell LLP
Principal

Anna Burhop assists clients with effective participation in the legislative and regulatory processes. She advocates on behalf of clients in the energy, environmental and natural resources industries. 

Before joining Bracewell, Anna was the environment director of regulatory and technical affairs at the American Chemistry Council, where she provided Clean Air Act policy and technical support on issues impacting the chemical manufacturing industry. She also previously served on the U.S. Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works, developing policy and oversight strategy...

202-828-1728
Patrick K. Johnson Energy Attorney Bracewell Houston, TX
Associate

Patrick serves clients across the energy sector in transactions that include mergers, acquisitions and divestitures of assets and companies, joint venture arrangements, and project finance.  Patrick also has extensive experience with the development of energy projects, including the negotiation and drafting of EPC agreements, construction management agreements, operation and maintenance agreements, and various other procurement and project development agreements. 

Patrick rejoined Bracewell after serving as in-house counsel to ExxonMobil. In that role, he provided legal support for...

713-221-1417
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