Air Capture in the U.S. Congress

February 25th, 2008

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

Senator John Barosso (R-WY) has introduced a bill promoting a technology policy for air capture research, including prizes for technological achievements. From the press release:

U.S. Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo., has introduced a bill aimed at developing technology to remove existing excess green houses gases from the atmosphere and permanently sequester them.

The “Greenhouse Gas Emission Atmospheric Removal Act,” or GEAR Act, will establish an award system for scientists and researchers.

“My proposal takes a new look at climate change,” Barrasso said. “This approach removes excess greenhouse gasses already in the atmosphere. The GEAR Act aims to tap into human potential and the American spirit to develop the technological solutions we need to address climate change.”

“Where ever you find yourself on the issue of climate change, we can agree on one important dynamic – change not only awaits us – it is banging on the door. We need to change it on our terms before Washington ’s massive bureaucracy changes it for us.”

“It makes sense that we explore proposals to remove and permanently sequester excess greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to slow or reverse climate change. The best way to develop the technology we need to achieve this is through a system of financial awards, or prizes, for achieving technological goals established by Congress.”

“Putting strict limits on our economy is not the answer to climate change. A healthy economy that spurs American ingenuity makes more sense to me.”

Mark Northam, Director of the School of Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming , said: “Removal of greenhouse gases directly from the atmosphere is the Holy Grail of climate change mitigation solutions. As currently envisioned, successful technologies will mimic natural processes and over time will help to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at acceptable levels.”

The full text of the bill follows after the jump.

S. 2614

To facilitate the development, demonstration, and implementation of technology for use in removing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.



Mr. BARRASSO introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works



To facilitate the development, demonstration, and implementation of technology for use in removing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the “Greenhouse Gas Emission Atmospheric Removal Act” or the “GEAR Act”.


It is the policy of the United States to provide incentives to encourage the development and implementation of technology to permanently remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere on a significant scale.


In this Act:

(1) COMMISSION.-The term “Commission” means the Greenhouse Gas Emission Atmospheric Removal Commission established by section 5(a).

(2) GREENHOUSE GAS.-The term “greenhouse gas” means-

(A) carbon dioxide;

(B) methane;

(C) nitrous oxide;

(D) sulfur hexafluoride;

(E) a hydrofluorocarbon;

(F) a perfluorocarbon; and

(G) any other gas that the Commission determines is necessary to achieve the purposes of this Act.

(3) INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY.-The term “intellectual property” means-

(A) an invention that is patentable under title 35, United States Code; and

(B) any patent on an invention described in subparagraph (A).

(4) SECRETARY.-The term “Secretary” means the Secretary of Energy.


The Secretary, acting through the Commission, shall provide to public and private entities, on a competitive basis, financial awards for the achievement of milestones in developing and applying technology that could significantly slow or reverse the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by permanently capturing or sequestrating those gases without significant countervailing harmful effects.


(a) Establishment.-There is established within the Department of Energy a commission to be known as the “Greenhouse Gas Emission Atmospheric Removal Commission”.

(b) Membership.-

(1) COMPOSITION.-The Commission shall be composed of 11 members appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, who shall provide expertise in-

(A) climate science;

(B) physics;

(C) chemistry;

(D) biology;

(E) engineering;

(F) economics;

(G) business management; and

(H) such other disciplines as the Commission determines to be necessary to achieve the purposes of this Act.


(A) TERM.-A member of the Commission shall serve for a term of 6 years.

(B) VACANCIES.-A vacancy on the Commission-

(i) shall not affect the powers of the Commission; and

(ii) shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment was made.

(3) INITIAL MEETING.-Not later than 30 days after the date on which all members of the Commission have been appointed, the Commission shall hold the initial meeting of the Commission.

(4) MEETINGS.-The Commission shall meet at the call of the Chairperson.

(5) QUORUM.-A majority of the members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum, but a lesser number of members may hold hearings.

(6) CHAIRPERSON AND VICE CHAIRPERSON.-The Commission shall select a Chairperson and Vice Chairperson from among the members of the Commission.

(7) COMPENSATION.-A member of the Commission shall be compensated at level III of the Executive Schedule.

(c) Duties.-The Commission shall-

(1) subject to subsection (d), develop specific requirements for-

(A) the competition process;

(B) minimum performance standards;

(C) monitoring and verification procedures; and

(D) the scale of awards for each milestone identified under paragraph (3);

(2) establish minimum levels for the capture or net sequestration of greenhouse gases that are required to be achieved by a public or private entity to qualify for a financial award described in paragraph (3);

(3) in coordination with the Secretary, offer those financial awards to public and private entities that demonstrate-

(A) a design document for a successful technology;

(B) a bench scale demonstration of a technology;

(C) technology described in subparagraph (A) that-

(i) is operational at demonstration scale; and

(ii) achieves significant greenhouse gas reductions; and

(D) operation of technology on a commercially viable scale that meets the minimum levels described in paragraph (2); and

(4) submit to Congress-

(A) an annual report that describes the progress made by the Commission and recipients of financial awards under this section in achieving the demonstration goals established under paragraph (3); and

(B) not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, a report that describes the levels of funding that are necessary to achieve the purposes of this Act.

(d) Public Participation.-In carrying out subsection (c)(1), the Commission shall-

(1) provide notice of and, for a period of at least 60 days, an opportunity for public comment on, any draft or proposed version of the requirements described in subsection (c)(1); and

(2) take into account public comments received in developing the final version of those requirements.

(e) Peer Review.-No financial award may be provided under this Act until such time as the proposal for which the award is sought has been peer reviewed in accordance with such standards for peer review as the Commission shall establish.


(a) In General.-Title to any intellectual property arising from a financial award provided under this Act shall vest in 1 or more entities that are incorporated in the United States.

(b) Reservation of License.-The United States-

(1) may reserve a nonexclusive, nontransferable, irrevocable, paid-up license, to have practiced for or on behalf of the United States, in connection with any intellectual property described in subsection (a); but

(2) shall not, in the exercise of a license reserved under paragraph (1), publicly disclose proprietary information relating to the license.

(c) Transfer of Title.-Title to any intellectual property described in subsection (a) shall not be transferred or passed, except to an entity that is incorporated in the United States, until the expiration of the first patent obtained in connection with the intellectual property.


There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as are necessary to carry out this Act.


The Commission and all authority of the Commission provided under this Act terminate on December 31, 2020.

2 Responses to “Air Capture in the U.S. Congress”

  1. David B. Benson Says:

    Here is what Biopact states needs to be done:

  2. 2
  3. TokyoTom Says:

    Roger, of course we should be investing in carbon capture technologies. But it should be the market and investors that choose investments, not the government. The government is notorious for making poor guesses on technology that frequently turn out to be expesive boondoggles that benefit only a few insiders.

    The government should focus on dispersing information, cleaning up its own tremendous energy waste, deregulating utilities and energy markets to enecourage efficiency, negotiating an international climate deal, setting up a system that will create market pricing signals for GHG emissions and sequestration – and get ready for adaptation challenges that are here and coming.

    Once a pricing system is im place investors will have plenty of incentives to investigate and invest in sequestration and carbon capture.