On November 5, 2021, Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm announced the latest of the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Earthshots1-the "Carbon Negative Shot"-with a new goal to remove gigatons of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and durably store it for less than $100/ton of net CO2-equivalent. This represents the first official US effort in carbon dioxide removal (CDR).

According to the DOE's announcement, "four performance elements will define the technologies DOE will advance through Carbon Negative Shot." These are stated as:

  • A reduced cost of CDR of less than $100/net metric ton CO2 equivalent for both capture and storage;
  • A robust accounting of lifecycle emissions (i.e., ensur[ing] emissions created when running and building the removal technology are accounted for);
  • High-quality, durable storage with costs demonstrated for monitoring, reporting and verification for at least 100 years; and
  • Enabl[ing] necessary gigaton-scale removal.

CDR is defined by the DOE as "a wide array of approaches that capture CO2 directly from the atmosphere and durably store it in geological, bio-based, and ocean reservoirs or in value-added products to create negative emissions." The announcement also noted that "[n]early all climate and energy models that reach net-zero indicate the need for a near-term focus on CDR development and deployment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050."

Accordingly, the announcement states, "[b]y midcentury, CDR will need to be deployed at the gigaton scale." The announcement also notes CDR needs "significant investments" in research and development to become a "cost-effective and economically viable technology that can be deployed at scale and in time to meet the urgent needs of the climate crisis."

The DOE also provided CDR FAQs, a Carbon Negative Shot infographic and a Carbon Negative Shot fact sheet.

Subsequently, on November 9, 2021, the DOE's Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management announced that it aims to fund "cost-shared research and development to accelerate the wide-scale deployment" of carbon capture and storage (CCS) and CDR, saying that these are vital to reaching the Biden administration's goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Projects will be selected as part of the DOE's Carbon Storage Assurance Facility Enterprise (CarbonSAFE) Initiative to develop geologic storage sites that can store a minimum of 50+ million metric tons of CO2.


1 The first Earthshot-Hydrogen Shot-is described in our related June 7, 2021, Legal Update "In Its First 'Energy Earthshot,' the US Department of Energy Launches Its 'Hydrogen Shot' Initiative." The second Earthshot- Long-Duration Storage Shot-was announced on July 16, 2021.

2 "To put this in perspective," says the DOE announcement, "one gigaton of subsurface sequestered CO2 is equivalent to the annual emissions from the U.S. light-duty vehicle fleet-the equivalent of approximately 250 million vehicles driven in one year."

Visit us at mayerbrown.com

Mayer Brown is a global legal services provider comprising legal practices that are separate entities (the "Mayer Brown Practices"). The Mayer Brown Practices are: Mayer Brown LLP and Mayer Brown Europe - Brussels LLP, both limited liability partnerships established in Illinois USA; Mayer Brown International LLP, a limited liability partnership incorporated in England and Wales (authorized and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and registered in England and Wales number OC 303359); Mayer Brown, a SELAS established in France; Mayer Brown JSM, a Hong Kong partnership and its associated entities in Asia; and Tauil & Chequer Advogados, a Brazilian law partnership with which Mayer Brown is associated. "Mayer Brown" and the Mayer Brown logo are the trademarks of the Mayer Brown Practices in their respective jurisdictions.

© Copyright 2020. The Mayer Brown Practices. All rights reserved.

This Mayer Brown article provides information and comments on legal issues and developments of interest. The foregoing is not a comprehensive treatment of the subject matter covered and is not intended to provide legal advice. Readers should seek specific legal advice before taking any action with respect to the matters discussed herein.