Lawmakers Look To Expand 'Clean Coal' Tax Credits

Jul 13, 2017

Coal state lawmakers want to make cleaning up coal more economically attractive. A bipartisan group of lawmakers announced Wednesday they are re-introducing a bill to expand tax credits for projects to capture carbon dioxide.

Basin Electric's Leland Olds Station is one of a handful of coal-fired power plants in North Dakota.
Credit Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

The coal industry faces a big problem in cleaning up emissions: cost. It’s often a barrier to moving clean coal technology out of the research stage and getting it to work on a commercial scale.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is leading an effort to expand an existing tax credit for these projects. The legislation she’s pushing would increase credits for projects that store emissions underground or inject carbon dioxide into oilfields to boost production, a process known as "enhanced oil recovery."

 

"We need to amp that up to get that technology moving," she said.

Currently, projects can receive a $10 per ton credit for enhanced oil recovery and $20 per ton of carbon dioxide stored underground. This legislation would increase those levels to $35 per ton and $50 per ton, respectively.

 

Heitkamp said it would also make other emerging technologies eligible for tax credits -- like projects to remove carbon dioxide already in the air, rather than capturing it directly from a coal-fired power plant.

Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming joined Heitkamp at a press conference on Wednesday at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. He spoke about the need to find a future -- through this "clean coal" research -- for Wyoming’s vast coal reserves.

"We want to use all of our resources and not let any of our resources become stranded assets," he said.

The legislation has support both from coal and environmental groups.