As the Mexican Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, festivities drew to a close, Dina Nuñez called to order a meeting of women grassroots activists in a modest home in the heart of Port Isabel, Texas. Top of her agenda: how to stop a Houston-based oil and gas company from building a $10 billion project to export liquefied natural gas on a nearby stretch of coast. For Nuñez and her friends, the fight against the scheme — known as Rio Grande LNG — is about protecting their community from air pollution; preserving shrimping and tourism; and defending habitats for pelicans, endangered ocelots, and aplomado falcons at the project site on unspoiled wetlands between Port Isabel and the larger city of Brownsville. The claim by developer NextDecade to be building the “greenest LNG project in the world” has thrust the women to the forefront of a global struggle.
We know that the window is quickly closing for us to slash emissions and avoid climate change’s worst effects. So it’s easy to get excited about direct air capture: technology designed to suck carbon dioxide straight from the atmosphere. But oil and gas companies have vested interests in DAC. As a kind of carbon capture and sequestration technology, DAC projects will receive hefty federal tax credits. Now, DAC boosters are drumming up hype that masks real problems — notably, that direct air capture is a scam that won’t help solve the climate crisis. With time running out on climate change, we can’t waste resources on this dangerous and speculative technology. Here are five reasons why.
South Dakota - Since 2010, Joye Braun, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, has fought the construction of oil and gas pipelines in her region, working to protect sacred places where her forebears hunted and fished and lived and died. In many of those battles, Braun came up against white ranchers and farmers who supported the pipelines and received fees from the developers for the use of their land. Today, Braun is opposing a huge new pipeline that would transport carbon dioxide across five Midwestern states — Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota. But this time she finds herself in an unusual alliance with white landowners who are also against the pipeline, like Ed Fischbach, a South Dakota farmer.
There is a growing chorus in favour of carbon capture and storage technologies (CCS) by fossil fuel firms and governments. In brief, CCS technologies capture emissions from fossil fuel extraction and production. The captured emissions are buried in no longer economically viable oil or gas wells to render them productive once more over a longer period of time. For spent oil wells, this is known as enhanced oil recovery (EOR). One of the reasons many of the oil and gas majors are on the bandwagon for a price on carbon is because they believe that a high carbon price would render CCS “economically viable,” provided CCS is accompanied by outrageous government subsidies. Considering CCS removal of carbon comes to about US$120/U.S. ton, a high carbon price would allow the industry to pursue business-as-usual, while concurrently appearing to be committed to a green economy.
Protecting forests is an essential strategy in the fight against climate change that has not received the attention it deserves. Trees capture and store massive amounts of carbon. And unlike some strategies for cooling the climate, they don’t require costly and complicated technology. Yet although tree-planting initiatives are popular, protecting and restoring existing forests rarely attracts the same level of support. As an example, forest protection was notably missing from the US$447 million Energy Act of 2020, which the U.S. Congress passed in December 2020 to jump-start technological carbon capture and storage. In our work as forest carbon cycle and climate change scientists, we track carbon emissions from forests to wood products and all the way to landfills – and from forest fires.
Some of the tax breaks, like one that restores a tax credit for home geothermal heating and cooling, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars to install, should make a significant difference to individuals trying to lower their carbon footprints. The credit is 30 percent if the system is installed between 2017 and 2019, then drops to 26 percent in 2020 and 22 percent through 2021. Others, like the carbon capture and sequestration provision, offer complicated and uncertain benefits to costly technologies that might or might not pay off—and that are hotly debated in environmental circles. Senators with widely divergent views of climate policy, including Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, favored it. Bob Perciasepe, president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), praised the tax cuts for promoting low-carbon sources of energy, which he called "critically necessary to the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050."