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DC - Carbon dioxide removal startups are heading to Washington

Move over, Silicon Valley. Washington, D.C., is fast becoming a hub for carbon dioxide removal action.

Carbon dioxide removal goes to Washington

Move over, Silicon Valley. Washington, D.C., is fast becoming a hub for carbon dioxide removal action. On Tuesday, the Carbon Business Council announced its arrival. The group of more than 40 companies is setting up shop in the nation’s capital in an effort to give smaller CDR startups leverage over the policies that could control their fate.

  • The group includes companies in their early stages and some that have received series D funding, Ben Rubin, the executive director and co-founder, told Protocol.
  • It’s also tech-neutral, featuring companies that remove and utilize carbon with a range of techniques.

Moving into Washington is a smart strategy for CDR. The tech industry has committed large sums of money through Frontier and the First Movers Coalition in an effort to create a market for CDR. But tech innovation and cash aren’t enough to scale an industry that currently pulls thousands of tons of carbon out of the air per year into one that safely snags 1 billion or more tons annually.

  • Policies that support the industry’s growth as well as federal research and procurement dollars will also be key to bringing down costs to the fabled $100 per ton threshold to make CDR somewhat affordable. The Carbon Business Council gives smaller companies a chance to advocate for just those things.
  • “Alone, we're easy to miss, but working together we're hard to ignore," Jonas Lee, the CCO of CarbonCapture, a coalition member, said in a statement.

Carbon removal could be the lone bipartisan climate solution. As the death of Build Back Better (again) showed last week, getting transformative climate policy passed in the Senate is nigh impossible as long as the filibuster and a slim majority that features Sen. Joe Manchin are in place. But Rubin said there’s ample room for consensus on supporting CDR in its many forms.

  • The already existing 45Q tax credit for carbon capture and storage has enjoyed support from both sides of the aisle. Rubin said tweaking the tax credit to “allow more startups to compete and partake in that” could be an area where the council looks to put some effort.
  • The council has already thrown its support behind the so-called CREST Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Susan Collins and Maria Cantwell that would spur more federal research and invest more money in various types of carbon removal.
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