He is now responsible for helping to clean up the industry.
In July, the agency, which has about 600 employees and a budget of roughly $900 million, added “and Carbon Management” to its name, signaling an important part of its new mission: helping develop the technology and build an industry that can avoid the launch. of carbon dioxide from power plants and factories, they suck it out of the air, transport it and store it permanently.
The Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) continues to operate a research division focused on oil, gas and coal production. But now it’s called the Office of Resource Sustainability, and its central job is to minimize the impacts of producing those fossil fuels, says Jennifer Wilcox, a carbon removal researcher who joined the office in beginning of the Biden administration. She now serves as FECM’s principal assistant secretary, overseeing the research and development divisions along with Brad Crabtree, the office’s assistant secretary.
FECM’s efforts will be boosted by a number of recent federal laws, including the Inflation Reduction Act, which significantly increases tax subsidies for carbon capture, removal and storage. The CHIPS and Science Act, signed into law in August, authorizes (but does not actually appropriate) $1 billion for carbon removal research and development at FECM. But most importantly, the Jobs and Infrastructure Investment Act that Biden signed into law in late 2021 will allocate about $12 billion to carbon capture and removal, including pipelines and storage facilities.
The FECM will play a key role in determining where much of the money goes.
Following the passage of the infrastructure bill, the Department of Energy announced a $2.5 billion investment to accelerate and validate ways to safely store carbon dioxide in underground formations, as well as $3.5 billion dollars in funding for pilot and demonstration projects aimed at preventing almost all carbon emissions. of fossil fuel power plants and industrial facilities, such as those producing cement, pulp and paper, and iron and steel. It has also moved forward with a $3.5 billion program to develop four regional centers for direct air capture projects, an effort to develop factories that can suck at least 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from the air each year .
Last week, I spoke with Wilcox and Noah Deich, Assistant Under Secretary for Carbon Management at FECM, about the new direction of the Department of Energy, where the billions of dollars will be put to work, and how they are trying to address the concerns on carbon sequestration and the current damage of fossil fuels.
“We must invest today”
Wilcox and Deich face a tricky balancing act.