The Biden administration has announced that it intends to spend $1.2 billion to essentially vacuum carbon dioxide from Earth’s air.
It’s called “direct air capture” (DAC), and according to CNN, it’s very much so “akin to huge vacuum cleaners sucking carbon dioxide out of the air.”
Chemicals are then used to clean the CO2 of greenhouse gases, after which the CO2 is either stored underground or “used in industrial materials like cement.”
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Energy specifically said it plans to spend $1.2 billion on “two new demonstration projects in Texas and Louisiana – the South Texas Direct Air Capture hub and Project Cypress in Louisiana,” as noted by CNN.
“These two projects are going to build these regional direct air capture hubs. That means they’re going to link everything from capture to processing to deep underground storage, all in one seamless process,” U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told reporters.
She added that they’re aiming to be able to remove over two million metric tons of CO2 annually once the machines are operational. This is reportedly equivalent to 500,000 gas-powered vehicles being removed from the roads.
All this said, critics were very confused over why the Biden administration is seeking to remove CO2 when trees and plants already do that naturally:
Trees Joe. They’re called trees
— Lyle (@lyle_blaker) August 12, 2023
Hey, let’s plant a bunch of trees! You know, trees used to take CO2 out of the atmosphere… maybe that still works?!?!
— Chuck Frawley (@ChuckFrawley) August 13, 2023
Joe, have you ever learned in this thing called biology that trees will take care of that? Oh, I forgot: you don’t believe in biology.
— Sean Gatton (@SeanGatton) August 12, 2023
Carbon dioxide occurs naturally in small amounts (about 0.04 percent) in the Earth’s atmosphere.
It is plant food. If you significantly reduce it, beyond a certain point, bad things are likely to happen.
— scott moore (@heartofhonor231) August 12, 2023
It would be cheaper and more efficient to plant trees pic.twitter.com/UspYSyIkMv
— Common Sense & Freedom 2.0 (@LibreConSentido) August 13, 2023
But according to CNN, there is an explanation: “The machines are being built to essentially supercharge the natural carbon removal already done by trees, bogs and oceans – which is not happening fast enough to capture fossil fuel emissions at the scale humans are emitting them.”
And so the vacuum is meant to just be a supplement solution, per se.
Also, these vacuums aren’t new, though according to White House senior adviser Mitch Landrieu, the ones being built by the Biden administration “will be the largest in the world.”
“Another project in Iceland that opened in 2021 removes about 10 metric tons of CO2 every day, roughly the same amount of carbon emitted by 800 cars a day. At the time, that project’s operator Climeworks said it was the largest one in the world,” CNN notes.
“The US direct air capture projects alone could increase global capacity for the technology by 400 times, said Sasha Stashwick, policy director at Carbon180 – an independent nonprofit focused on carbon removal,” according to CNN.
“The industry’s very nascent at the moment. These are meant to be the first commercial-scale deployments at the mega-ton scale. It’s a very, very big deal,” Stashwick told CNN.
This is kind of true, but also kind of not true. The problem, as noted by Deutsche Welle, is that “the technology needs to become much cheaper quickly to roll out at the scale needed to affect the planet.” And that’s not likely to happen anytime soon.
Indeed, critics have many doubts about these projects:
Just another way to launder tax dollars to themselves
— Marilyn (@MitusMoses) August 13, 2023
Whatever they do will make it worse. They can’t do anything right.
— Rebecca (@Rebeccamom) August 12, 2023
Sooo they will suck up all there chemicals they’ve been having sprayed in our skies for how many years to poison the earth control the weather etc.??
— Kim Pepper-Kraft (@KimPepperKraft) August 12, 2023
Another failed experiment…The atmosphere doesn’t end at national boundaries. Its equivalent to you opening your house windows in an attempt to cool or warm the outside.
— BA (@eod_diver) August 12, 2023
Terrible terrible idea. Carbon capture from the air is a terrible idea from a thermodynamics perspective.
Orders of magnitude more efficient to not put it there in the first place (if you’re intent on achieving a certain PPM)
— asdf49724 (@asdf49724) August 13, 2023
As for who’s paying for the projects, you should already know the answer. In fact, the money for the project was appropriated via the so-called bipartisan “infrastructure” deal that President Joe Biden signed into law two years ago (and that had nothing to do with actual infrastructure and everything to do with climate change).
Oh, but there’s more. The infrastructure bill allocated a total of $3.5 billion for DAC projects, meaning future hubs will probably be announced sooner rather than later …
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