Despite its many critics, carbon capture (the practice of sucking carbon dioxide out of the air) has drawn a flock of investors, including Bill Gates and Elon Musk. It has also become a centerpiece for Big Oil’s decarbonization strategy — which has drawn plenty of skeptics — while uniting lawmakers on the right and left who see it as an attractive policy choice.
Big Energy is bullish on carbon capture. The oil and gas industry spent more than $124 million on federal lobbying in 2022, according to the watchdog group OpenSecrets, with a big area of focus being subsidies for carbon capture. And though none of the nation’s coal- and gas-fired power plants currently use the technology in a significant way, the five biggest spenders have been spotlighting their carbon capture investments recently:
Carbon capture has an expanding place in policy. Lawmakers in the Senate and House recently introduced bipartisan legislation to encourage carbon reuse once it’s captured from high-emission products like aviation fuel and construction materials. Last year’s Inflation Reduction Act significantly increased the tax credit for capturing carbon and the Department of Energy plans to award $3.5 billion to plants for direct air capture, spurring investor interest in the sector.
But the new rules could face resistance. Last year, the Supreme Court struck down emissions rules proposed by the E.P.A. under the Obama administration, finding that climate change was a “major question” to be addressed by Congress, not by unelected regulators.
The new regulations have been crafted with that decision in mind but are still likely to face pushback. A spokeswoman for the agency declined to comment on the rules while they are under review, telling DealBook, “We have been clear from the start that we will use all of our legally-upheld tools, grounded in decades-old bipartisan laws, to address dangerous air pollution.”
Is America ceding control of its own companies?
Britain’s blocking of Microsoft’s takeover of Activision Blizzard helped cement the country as a formidable force on the global antitrust stage. But given the Federal Trade Commission’s already public opposition to the $69 billion transaction — and the growing global alignment on competition policy — some are questioning whether and how much American and British regulators coordinated their approaches to the deal.
Among them are Jay Clayton, a former S.E.C. chairman, and Gary Cohn, a former Trump economic adviser and onetime Goldman Sachs president. In a Times Opinion guest essay, the two argued that Britain’s move threatens America’s ability to regulate its own businesses:
If these were isolated examples of abdication of regulatory authority to Europe, we might shrug it off. They are not. Our regulators are all too often deferring to foreign counterparts, citing euphemisms like “international cooperation” and “global regulatory harmonization” while paying short shrift to their obligation to consider domestic consequences in accordance with our laws.
The Europeans are our allies, but they also are our competitors. Shouldn’t we expect European regulation of U.S. matters to favor European interests over the interests of U.S. citizens? What will U.S. regulators say in the future when European regulators, citing the Microsoft and Illumina examples, assert jurisdiction over a U.S.-centric transaction where U.S. and European interests are at odds? What if Chinese regulators make similar assertions?