The Catch Carbon bill & CCUS – What it potentially all means
By Laura Duncan, Mandy Jolly & Roshni Bham
4th may 2030
It’s no secret that the Oil & Gas industry along with manufacturing has severely lacked in transforming their business models in line with U.S. decarbonisation and climate mitigation efforts. While government attention has been primarily focused on transforming the electricity sector, industry giants and big manufacturing firms have mostly continued business as usual (except for the occasional odd one out). GHG emissions from these facilities (while having slightly decreased) have not reduced at the speed required and still account for over a quarter of overall emissions. While CO2 emissions from coal consumption have declined dramatically, increasing emissions from natural gas and petroleum have offset these declines.
To convert the industry, the Harris administration just announced the Catch Carbon bill which seeks to legalise CCS requirements, obligations and rules. The bill addresses carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) across industry and implementation, setting down rules and regulation for authorization of various carbon management and removal programs. Business groups and environmental advocates see it as a crucial step in enforcing oil and gas giants to enact more climate friendly practices as little else seems to be working.
American oil giants Chevron and Exxon Mobil have invested what amounts to pocket change in innovative climate-orientated efforts and have made minimal leeway in investing in more renewable sources of production. Despite a reduction in oil & gas demand, if anything, these oil majors have doubled down on betting a long-term future for oil and gas, despite so called claims of reduced production and big budget spending on renewables and clean sources of energy.
As world leaders struggle to adopt coordinated and effective climate policies, the choices made by oil companies, with their deep pockets, science prowess, experience in managing big engineering projects and lobbying muscle may be critical. What they do could help determine whether the world can meet the goals of the Paris agreement to limit the increase of global temperatures to below 2 degrees above preindustrial levels.
The big American oil and gas companies publicly agree that climate change is a threat and that they must play a role in the kind of energy transition the world last saw during the industrial revolution. But the urgency with which the companies have and are planning to transform their businesses could not be more lack-lustre.
“This bill can cut climate pollution, create jobs and make us more competitive on the world stage. By nudging manufacturers and oil companies to use clean energy, efficiency upgrades, and other innovative technologies to reduce emissions, the Administration is supporting cleaner industry that can produce the next generation of products and materials for a net-zero economy,” the White House said in a statement.
CCUS has been around since the 1970s but has become increasingly popular as an essential tool in tackling global warming. The US Department of Energy’s Carbon Negative Shot Program launched back in 2025, has increasingly found ways to reduce the costs of carbon capture while other firms have also started to implement more and more of the technology. The Whitehouse hopes that through the Catch Carbon Bill, more and more organisations will begin to use the technology in a safe and sound way – while nudging those that are yet to make sufficient dents in their emissions towards a cleaner industry.
Dr Polly Buotte of the Ecological Society of America states the bill comes at a good time as “increased carbon sequestration is needed if we wish to avoid a climate catastrophe. The Catch Carbon bill will not only incentivise oil and gas firms to increase their use of the technology, but it will also ensure that firms around the country deploy it in a safe, sound and controllable way. Further, the bill can support the prevention of further degradation of ecosystems and biodiversity if CCUS technology is not handled correctly.”
But according to critics, CCUS is inefficient and does not tackle many of the environmental problems associated with fossil fuels. In a recent Twitter thread, Nikki Reisch, the director of the climate & energy program at the Center for International Law described carbon capture as “a technology with a track record of over-promising & under-delivering.” She wrote that the White House is ignoring the CCUS’ “track record of failure & industry abuse,” while “extending more handouts to oil & gas companies” and “doubling down on the fossil fuel economy.”
On top of that, some recent studies indicate that existing CCUS projects often lead to higher emissions because the technology is energy-intensive and that energy is mostly produced by burning fossil fuels — and yes, renewable energy is growing but not fast enough to significantly reduce emissions from the sector. Environmental advocates say the U.S. should focus all its efforts on promoting renewable energy instead of CCUS, a technology that will allow fossil fuel companies to continue selling coal, oil, and gas while receiving additional government funding—and substantial tax credits.
However, under pressure to slash emissions and if the Catch Carbon bill passes, energy producers and factories within the so-called “hard to decarbonize sectors”—which beyond oil and gas, include cement, iron, steel, and chemicals—are likely to double down on CCUS facilities, building more than 100 new facilities across the U.S.
The fossil fuel industry says that CCUS “will help achieve climate progress” and Exxon even envisions building a $100-billion CCUS hub in Texas but some activists argue that the technology is just a decoy that will allow oil and gas companies to pocket government funding while continuing to pollute the environment.
The White House argues the bill is really about ensuring the technology is being deployed “in a manner that is environmentally sound and that cuts cumulative pollution in nearby communities.” The Catch Carbon bill seeks to make these guidelines enforceable as well as industry statutory obligated under certain conditions to use CCUS technology. Further, while the technology has been around for decades, the bill will offer “economic incentives”.
The bill will not be passed immediately as it is likely to find some hurdles across an increasingly polarized American government.
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