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Schatz Introduces New Bill To Fight Climate Change, Help Remove Harmful Carbon Pollution From Atmosphere

New Bill Funds, Directs Federal Agencies To Boost Carbon Dioxide Removal Solutions

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) today introduced new legislation to fight climate change by helping remove heat-trapping carbon dioxide pollution from the Earth’s atmosphere. The new bill directs agencies across the federal government to boost research, development, and demonstration efforts into carbon removal solutions and calls for a plan on increased international coordination. The Schatz legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), and Peter Welch (D-Vt.).

“Climate change is the greatest challenge of our generation. To fight it, we need to do everything, including removing carbon dioxide pollution from the atmosphere,” said Senator Schatz. “Our bill will give us the tools we need to lead the world in CDR technology development.”

The Carbon Dioxide Removal Research and Development (CDR R&D) Act would direct nine federal departments and agencies to fund and conduct research, development, and demonstration of carbon dioxide removal activities and techniques over ten years. Research priorities include a broad range of technological pathways and technologically-enhanced natural processes including direct air capture, carbon uptake in forests and agriculture, ocean-based carbon removal, carbon mineralization, geologic sequestration, and carbon utilization. The new bill follows the Biden Administration’s recent announcement that it would invest $1.2 billion to help build the country’s first two commercial-scale direct air capture plants.

Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies, which provide a means of taking carbon out of the atmosphere, will be key to limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. According to the National Academies, the scale of removal required to meet U.S. climate goals is immense. Even with ambitious emission-reduction efforts, 10 billion metric tons of excess carbon dioxide will need to be removed from the atmosphere globally every year by 2050, rising to 20 billion annually in 2100. CDR can mitigate residual emissions from sectors where it is difficult to completely eliminate emissions. CDR also has the potential to achieve net negative emissions and address historical emissions by removing legacy carbon from the atmosphere.

“Climate change demands a range of tools to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, including reducing emissions at the source. Carbon removal can be complementary to those efforts, especially around hard-to-tackle sectors in our economy, and we should support research efforts now,” said Elizabeth Gore, Senior Vice President for Political Affairs at EDF. “With this bill, Senator Schatz and Congressman Tonko are taking an important step toward strengthening our policy toolkit for a safer, net-zero future. EDF is committed to ensuring that climate change action broadly will make our families healthier, our air cleaner and our planet more livable.”

Companion legislation has been introduced in the House by U.S. Representative Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.). The Carbon Dioxide Removal Research and Development Act is supported by Carbon180, Clean Air Task Force, Environmental Defense Fund, LTC Action (Linden Trust for Conservation), and National Wildlife Federation

The full text of the bill is available here.