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Opinion: Carbon capture is a crucial tool in California’s climate plan

California is leading the nation and much of the world with its ambitious effort to reduce the carbon emissions that are causing climate change.

But an economy built largely on burning carbon can’t be transformed overnight. That’s why we need tools to reduce emissions from carbon while we are doing everything we can to phase it out.

One innovative technology that holds great promise is carbon sequestration, which captures carbon emissions and returns them to the earth before they can harm the atmosphere.

The California Air Resources Board’s draft “Climate Change Scoping Plan,” which serves as a roadmap for the state’s climate strategy, wisely includes carbon capture as one of the tools in that plan.

Carbon capture can remove more than 90% of the greenhouse gas emissions produced at industrial sources, according to the MIT Energy Initiative, while also cutting other air pollutants at the same time.

California’s history as a national climate leader positions us to play an instrumental role as part of the national effort to scale safe carbon capture technologies and to reap the economic and climate benefits these actions can deliver at home.

We have dozens of industries in our state — including a number in our region — that are ideally situated to use carbon capture to cost effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These industries support thousands of good jobs for hard-working professionals across a range of economic sectors.

We have one of the most skilled workforces in the world that can be deployed to design, build and operate carbon capture projects across a number of industries that power our state, including refining, electricity, manufacturing, hydrogen production, cement and bioenergy. We are also home to some of the best geologic storage capacity in the world for safe and permanent underground sequestration of greenhouse gas emissions.

A recent analysis by the California Carbon Capture Coalition shows that a build out of carbon sequestration projects to support California’s climate goals will create between 60,000 to 150,000 new jobs and preserve an estimated 230,000 additional jobs for Californians. These jobs can support a family and give our residents the dignity they deserve as we transition to the lower carbon economy of the future,

Carbon capture technologies can play a critical role in helping to minimize the cost of the state’s climate action plans, especially for the most vulnerable Californians. In the electricity sector alone, carbon capture can provide as much as $750 million a year in energy cost savings compared to a scenario relying exclusively on renewable sources, according to the Energy Futures Initiative and Stanford University.

The task ahead to steeply ramp down emissions is considerable. A major part of this challenge will be to ensure that the vital sectors of California’s economy like our industrial and power sectors have safe, environmentally friendly, realistic and cost-effective options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Just as we have done to support the successful scaling of other clean energy technologies, the state needs to make a clear and strong policy and budget commitment to carbon capture as part of the plan for meeting our climate goals.

As the California Air Resources Board works to finalize the Scoping Plan over the coming months, it is critical to ensure that it includes carbon capture as an important part of the strategy.

Sen. Steve Glazer represents California’s 7th Senate District, including most of Contra Costa County and part of Alameda County. Ché Timmons is the Business Manager of Plumbers & Steamfitters Local Union 342.

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