Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Includes $25 Billion in Potential New Subsidies for Fossil Fuels

As a down payment for addressing climate crisis, the Senate's bipartisan infrastructure bill will be sold. Environmental advocates and academics warn that the spending bill would be full of fossil fuel industry subsidies disguised as climate solutions. According to analysis by the Center for International Environmental Law, fossil fuel companies would be eligible for $25 billion in new subsidies under the latest draft bill.Jim Walsh, senior policy analyst at Food and Water Watches, stated that this amounts to billions upon billions in additional subsidies for fossil fuel industries. This subsidy is in addition to the $15billion we already give to this sector to support and finance this industry. Scientists believe that the United States must reach net-zero emission by 2050, and then be well on their way to reaching this goal by 2030 in order to achieve the Paris climate agreement goals. Walsh stated that subsidies to fossil fuel industries will keep them going and we won't be able meet the Paris accord if these kinds of programs are funded.The deal envisages a future where fossil fuels are used in perpetuity.Walsh said that subsidies could also lead to a new economy, which Walsh believes will be rooted in the development of fossil fuel infrastructure. This would allow for the creation of four petrochemical centers that would provide profit incentives for greenhouse gas emissions production. It would also support technologies that are sold as solutions to the climate crisis. These technologies include carbon capture, and decarbonized hydrocarbon fuel. These technologies are used by fossil fuel companies to mask the continuing release of climate-warming gasses. None of these technologies are commercially viable on a large scale. Therefore, the government is required to help the energy industry with what critics call a PR scheme. Bill includes billions of dollars to finance carbon capture, utilization and storage, hydrogen fuel made from natural gaz, and low-emission buses that could run on natural gas and hydrogen. The bill encourages subsidies that are not quantified in the legislation. For example, it urges states to waive property taxes on pipelines used to transport carbon captured.Details are the devil. The majority of hydrogen that sounds clean is made from natural gas. It also produces carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. This process requires energy. Typically, this is done by burning more natural gas. Carbon capture and storage are promoted as a way to reduce the emissions from fossil fuel processing plants. Carbon capture and storage would not address the many environmental issues caused by drilling, fracking, mining, or the burning of fossil fuels for energy. It is crucial that the public believes that corporations are working to reduce the climate crisis. This will ensure the survival of the fossil fuel sector. Two of the key strategies used by the industry to achieve this goal are hydrogen and carbon capture, utilization and storage. Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell have all highlighted their investments in hydrogen capture and utilization.Long-term, industry-supported climate projects rely on government subsidies. However, the rapid scaling up of renewable energy sources has already been shown to significantly slow down the climate crisis. Simply put, solar and wind are climate solutions right now. Carbon capture and decarbonized hydrogen don't. The infrastructure compromise is being pushed by Republicans and Democrats. However, the Democrats are choosing to provide funding for renewable energy technology rather than giving a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry. Even provisions in bills that support renewable energy development include language that could allow funding to be used instead for solutions to the fossil fuel industry.The best use of the subsidy money is to buy wind, solar and storage to reduce fossil fuels.Mark Jacobson, professor of civil engineering at Stanford University, stated that any legislation funding carbon capture, storage, or use of direct air capture is legalizing funding of scam technologies. These technologies merely increase pollution death and disease, mining, and its damage, as well as fossil-fuel infrastructure. They also have no proven carbon benefit. The best use of subsidy money is to buy wind, solar and storage to eliminate the need for fossil fuels. The legislation must also pass the House. It will be supplemented with hundreds of billions of additional provisions through a separate reconciliation process, which does not require Republican support. The $2.5 trillion American Jobs Plan, President Joe Biden's blueprint, kicked off this process. Republicans didn't invent the hydrogen and carbon spending. Many industry-friendly ideas were already part of Biden's plan. Walsh said that it is truly bipartisan. The bill is moving quickly, and billions of dollars are set to become law. This comes at a time where policymakers and the general public don't have a clear understanding of how these technologies work. Hydrogen is the latest fad in the fossil fuel industry. The so-called clean hydrogen or blue hydrogen would utilize carbon capture and storage to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Green hydrogen is another type of fuel that uses electricity from renewable sources. However, neither blue nor green hydrogen production methods are widely used. Only two facilities have attempted to produce commercially decarbonized blue hydrogen. According to a report from 2019, 96 percent of hydrogen fuel worldwide comes from carbon-intensive methods of production. According to research from Cornell and Stanford Universities, hydrogen is more climate-warming than natural gas. The infrastructure bill calls on the government to develop a national strategy for clean hydrogen, which would include four regional hydrogen hubs. One hub is required to be connected to fossil fuels, while two other hubs must be located near natural gas resources. The carbon capture provision in the bill also ties one hub to fossil fuels and calls for two others to be near natural gas resources. The problem is made worse by the fact that there isn't a real market for carbon captured, other than to extract more oil from existing wells. Although the legislation provides money for new uses of trapped gases, large-scale markets remain elusive.The legislation is geared towards creating new uses of the trapped gases. However, large-scale markets for these gases are not likely to be created.