Sixth Annual DC Forum

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The Global CCS Institute’s Americas region held its sixth annual DC Forum on 8 February in Washington, DC.  The theme of the Forum was “Maintaining North American Leadership in Carbon Capture.”

Participants discussed, debated and explored the essential roles of government and business in continuing to advance carbon capture in the region and globally.

The event got underway with a conversation between Jeff Erikson, GM of the Americas Region and Global CCS Institute CEO Brad Page on the global momentum for carbon capture and the prospects for meeting the Paris Agreement’s 2-degrees Celsius warming limit by 2050.  This theme was carried forward during a keynote address delivered by Dr. Julio Friedmann, a former US Department of Energy official and current Senior Advisor of Energy Innovation at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.  Dr. Friedmann also serves as a Global Advisor to the Institute.

"CCS is central to a muscular industrial policy, but we need some kind of incentive structure right now," said Dr. Friedmann during his remarks.  He said now is the time for companies and governments to invest capital in developing the technology. "The message is not hard to fathom: 'Now baby, now.'" 

Friedmann also urged the creation of additional CO2 pipelines to enable a more robust domestic market for carbon dioxide.  Around 5,000 miles of CO2 pipelines are in place in the U.S., and Friedmann said doubling this would provide a big improvement toward allowing the private sector to better utilise CO2 beyond simply storing it underground.

That led into a panel discussion comprised of senior staff members from both political parties who serve on key energy and environment committees within the U.S. Congress.  The panelists agreed that there is renewed interest in Congress on the future of CCS, although no consensus exists on new legislation that would promote it.  One remarked that support exists in both parties for continuing CCS research, while staffers from both parties separately raised the notion that energy infrastructure legislation might include provisions beneficial to developing CCS projects.  

Remaining on the topic of Congress, Jeffrey Bobeck, the Institute’s Senior Adviser for Policy & Regulatory for The Americas, unveiled preliminary results from recent research the Institute facilitated among a bipartisan pool of Congressional staff members.  The early results showed areas of both opportunities and challenges that carbon capture supporters face in raising awareness and understanding.

In an effort to bring promising new developments to light, a “lightning round” of innovators in the CCS space presented brief overviews of their respective carbon capture projects or technologies.  Bill Brown, CEO of NETPower, said that federal grants are one option to accelerate carbon capture in the U.S.  However, he stressed that the private sector should encourage technology and funding in the absence of less expected emphasis on mitigating climate change under the current presidential administration.  For instance, Brown said a possible way to encourage development would be for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to grant mineral exploration leases to entities that want to develop enhanced oil recovery.  NETPower is an Institute Member that is developing emissions-free natural gas plant technology.    

Jeff Erikson concluded the Forum with a call to action: “Take what you learned today and exit the echo chamber.  Individually, we may be a minority within the energy landscape.  But collectively, we can make real progress happen on CO2 emissions and climate change.”   


Jeff Erikson and Brad Page, Global CCS Institute. Photo credit: Johnny Shryock


Julio Friedmann, LLNLPhoto credit: Johnny Shryock


The Congressional Outlook Panel (left to right): Mandy Gunasekara, Majority Counsel, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW); Mary Frances Repko, Deputy Minority Staff Director (EPW); Jean Fruci, Minority Staff, House Energy and Commerce; Mary Neumayr, Majority Staff, House Energy and Commerce. Photo credit: Johnny Shryock


Mandy Gunasekara, Majority Counsel, EPW, and Chris Romans, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Photo credit: Johnny Shryock


Bill Brown, NETPowerPhoto credit: Johnny Shryock