Follow congressional intent to implement direct air capture grant program, Collins tells DOE

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) joined a bipartisan contingent of nine other senators in requesting that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) follows congressional intent in implementing the Direct Air Capture Hub Program established under the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Specifically, the lawmakers are concerned about DOE’s Notice of Intent to issue a Funding Opportunity Announcement for implementing the Direct Air Capture grant program, according to a July 20 letter they sent to DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm, and they worry that DOE could impose burdensome, one-size-fits-all requirements on grant applicants, limiting the program’s ability to work.

Congress established the Direct Air Capture Hub Program to advance the deployment of Direct Air Capture (DAC) Technologies, or mechanized direct air capture technologies that capture carbon dioxide from ambient air, their letter states, and Congress designed the program to assist in deploying and reducing the long-term cost of DAC.

“For this reason, we encourage the department to implement the Direct Air Capture Program in accordance with congressional intent,” wrote Sen. Collins and her colleagues. “Doing so will still support other forms of CDR [Carbon Dioxide Removal] and point source carbon capture enabled by the hub model.”

Sen. Collins and the lawmakers also suggested that DOE approach each application for hub participation on its own merits and work with individual applicants to establish milestones related to Front-end Engineering and Design Studies, permitting and other requirements that are tailored to each applicant. 

“The department should not require each applicant to reach the same stage of progress before down-selecting to a smaller subset of applicants,” they wrote.

Additionally, the senators also noted that applicants should not be subject to requirements that would limit the revenue derived from utilization or sequestration of carbon dioxide that results in secure and permanent geologic storage or successful embodiment in products, according to their letter.

“We are encouraged by the department’s actions to quickly implement the DAC Hub Program,” wrote Sen. Collins and her colleagues. “However, we ask that the department fulfill the intent of the legislation by considering the adjustments requested in this letter.”

Among the lawmakers who joined Sen. Collins in signing the letter were U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Joe Manchin (D-WV).