Just outside of Gillette, groundbreaking research is happening.
Right next to Dry Fork Station sits the Integrated Test Center. The center is a state-of-the-art facility that allows scientists to use captured carbon emissions from the power plant for research experiments.
The goal is to discover brand new uses for carbon emissions — an end-result that’s good for the environment and good for Wyoming. This week, I am holding a Senate field hearing right here in Campbell County to showcase this good work.
Wyoming is the leading coal producer in the nation. The vast majority of that coal comes from right here in Campbell County. Coal creates good paying jobs for the people of Wyoming and keeps lights on for the whole country. For generations, coal from Wyoming has powered America’s economy.
In recent years, coal and other traditional fuels have come under attack. In the name of combating climate change, liberal leaders in Washington declared a war on coal. Under President Obama, the Environmental Protection Agency went way beyond its authority and rolled out punishing regulations.
The so-called “Clean Power Plan” was designed to shut down coal-fueled power plants, raise energy bills and hurt Wyoming families. The Supreme Court stopped it from going into effect. President Trump struck the devastating regulation off the books and developed a commonsense replacement.
Free market innovation, not government regulation or taxation, is the solution to addressing a changing climate. Wyoming is leading the way by developing innovative solutions, which will allow us to keep using coal and, at the same time, reduce emissions. A prime example of Wyoming’s world-class leadership is the Integrated Test Center.
In 2014, Gov. Matt Mead and the state Legislature allocated $15 million for the design, construction and operation of the center. Officially launched in 2018, the Integrated Test Center gives research teams access to captured carbon emissions, so they can develop new uses for it. Teams at the site are developing fuels, plastics, and new building materials — all from carbon dioxide that would otherwise be released up the smokestack.
The University of Wyoming is also leading the country in studying how to store carbon dioxide underground. By simply injecting the gas into the earth, it can be permanently stored in deep rock formations.
In a process called enhanced oil recovery, carbon dioxide is used to flush out oil from wells with declining production. When this process is complete, the wells are sealed, and the carbon dioxide remains permanently stored deep underground. Enhanced oil recovery allows us to make use of our abundant coal reserves, increase the amount of oil that we can get from our wells, and significantly reduce emissions — all at the same time.
As chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, I have introduced legislation to boost the kind of research taking place around the Dry Fork Station. The Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies Act, or USE IT Act, will make it easier for researchers to get started.
The USE IT Act has broad bipartisan support. Republicans and Democrats agree carbon capture technologies have tremendous potential for reducing emissions. The USE IT Act has already passed the Senate and is now awaiting a vote in the House of Representatives. I want to see the legislation become law this year.
By converting carbon emissions into valuable and marketable products, we can help address a changing climate and boost Wyoming’s economy at the same time.
That’s why I am hosting a Senate field hearing at the Integrated Test Center on Aug. 19. We will hear from leading experts about ways we can leverage and support the work happening at the Integrated Test Center and around Wyoming. I look forward to meeting with researchers about their work to transform carbon into valuable goods as well as to inject it underground.
By supporting innovation, Congress can make significant strides towards addressing a changing climate. We can have a growing economy and clean air. Wyoming is leading the way in carbon capture research and development. It’s time Washington follows our lead.
U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., is chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.