(The Center Square) – Regulatory framework for a carbon capture and storage network in Pennsylvania slid through a House committee on Tuesday without discussion or objection.

The Senate-authored legislation would also act as a guidepost for two hydrogen hubs under development within the state in the coming decade as part of the Biden administration’s broader energy transition plan.

The idea is to store future emissions to prevent their release into the atmosphere. However, the economic potential of doing so isn’t clearly understood yet.

Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Williamsport, sponsored the legislation in 2023 and said, despite the risk of an unsettled regulatory environment, the state is “uniquely qualified” to develop a network, in part due to its “robust energy industry and extensive geological formations.”

“We should act now to establish a solid regulatory framework that will attract investment and development and economic opportunity for decades to come,” he said in April.

Critics, however, say the legislation leaves consumers on the hook for increased utility costs if participating fossil fuel plants pass use rate hikes to recoup state-imposed fees.

The bill faced staunch Democratic opposition in the Senate, where Republicans hold a comfortable majority. Its chances of surviving the narrowly-divided House are uncertain.

However, the bill’s unanimous support in the House Consumer Protection, Technology and Utilities Committee on Tuesday signals broader agreement.

Some experts agree the economic promise of carbon capture isn’t yet proven. So far, the sector has a history of federal subsidies that have not panned out. 

In 2018, a federal tax credit expansion led to dozens of new projects, as The Center Square previously reported. Coal- and industrial-related carbon-capture projects, however, were criticized by the Government Accountability Office due to the Department of Energy’s “high-risk selection and negotiation process” and its “bypassing of cost controls.”

Without those federal subsidies – i.e. taxpayer money – the projects won’t get built.

Christen Smith is a regional editor for The Center Square and co-host of Pennsylvania in Focus, a weekly podcast on America’s Talking Network. Find her work in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Broad + Liberty, RealClear, and the Washington Examiner.

This article was republished with permission from The Center Square.

Leave a (Respectful) Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *