US Launches $1.2 Billion Plan to Vacuum Greenhouse Gases From Atmosphere


The Biden administration is investing $1.2 billion in the nation’s first two commercial-scale plants to vacuum carbon dioxide pollution from the atmosphere. This technology, known as direct air capture, has been hailed by some scientists as a breakthrough in the fight against global warming, but others worry that it could be an extravagant boondoggle.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced that the Department of Energy will be funding an equal split of the project cost between Occidental Petroleum’s plant in Kleberg County, Texas, and Battelle, a nonprofit research organization’s plant in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana.

“These projects are going to help us prove out the potential of these next-generation technologies so that we can add them to our climate crisis fighting arsenal,” Granholm said in a telephone call with reporters. The 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law included a total of $3.5 billion to fund the construction of four commercial-scale direct air capture plants, with Friday’s announcement covering the first two.

Oil and gas companies lobbied for the direct air capture money to be included in the law, arguing that the world could continue to burn fossil fuels if they had a way to clean up their planet-warming pollution.

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