Thirteen Democratic and four Republican members of Congress asked the House and Senate conference committee for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to include a Senate version of the carbon capture legislation, Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies Act (USE IT Act), in a letter on Tuesday.
The bill is crucial to the development of carbon capture technology and a carbon dioxide pipeline, according to supporters. The Senate and House Armed Services Committees are negotiating the NDAA. The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee unanimously passed the USE IT Act, S.383, this summer.
The letter includes Reps. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., and Marc Veasey, D-Texas, some of the initial co-sponsors of the House version of the USE IT Act, 27 Democrats and 12 Republicans. In order for the conference committee to advance the critical defense bill, the members might decide to remove parts on which the House and Senate cannot reach an agreement.
The Carbon Capture Coalition is looking for any legislative vehicle to pass USE IT. While the Senate EPW unanimously approved the legislation as part of a transportation infrastructure bill, the defense authorization bill is seen as a better opportunity for carbon capture advocates because it needs to pass this year.
"It is time to pass this important and widely-supported climate and energy legislation, and the NDAA provides an appropriate opportunity to do so," the Carbon Capture Coalition wrote to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Service Committees in August.
Senate Armed Services Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., became a sponsor of the carbon capture infrastructure bill last February and included it in the final version of the NDAA.
The bill would support carbon utilization and direct air capture research and clarify the eligibility of carbon capture projects and carbon dioxide pipelines for a tax credit that passed in a bipartisan 2017 effort. Inhofe has said he views the USE IT Act as a climate solution that he can support as a conservative, because of the technology's potential to enable lower emissions in coal- and gas-fired generation.
Tuesday's letter from 17 House members highlighted a number of priorities beyond climate change.
"We believe that it is very important to maintain the USE IT Act language contained in the Senate bill to address not only climate-related national security risks, but also the interconnected issues of energy security, economic vitality, environmental sustainability and America's leadership at the forefront of carbon capture and utilization technologies," House members said in their letter.
CORRECTION: The House version of the USE IT Act has 1 sponsor and 38 co-sponsors, or 27 Democrats and 12 Republicans.