A message from the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM)
2023 has been another exceptional year for FECM as our team continues to implement historic changes in the way the United States develops and deploys critical technologies needed to achieve U.S. climate and energy goals.
FECM has been tasked with implementing historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and Inflation Reduction Act provisions, over and above responsibilities for our traditional base appropriations. FECM released 19 funding opportunity announcements valued at $3.3 billion, and we issued $1.26 billion in awards across our portfolio. In addition, the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) team supported record levels of programming for offices across the DOE complex, helping to deliver around $7 billion in financial assistance.
I recently returned from COP 28, the United Nation’s annual global conference on climate change. Two things struck me about this year’s conference. First, much of the focus and many of the discussions centered on the role of the oil and gas sector in the energy transition, including the move toward clean hydrogen and the role of carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) and methane mitigation in achieving net zero emissions.
It was remarkable to see how closely COP28 aligned with FECM’s mission to minimize the environmental and climate impacts of fossil fuels and address the hardest-to-decarbonize applications in the electricity and industrial sectors.
The second thing I observed at this year’s conference was the impact our work in FECM – and our global leadership on carbon management and methane mitigation – is already having on the drive to meet net-zero goals – not just here in the United States, but around the world, as well.
As we look toward 2024, I would also like to take stock of some of the things FECM has achieved to carry out our mission.
Here are a few prominent examples of FECM’s growing role and impact:
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency partnered with FECM’s Methane Mitigation Technologies Program and NETL to help implement the Methane Emissions Reduction Program in the Inflation Reduction Act to provide technical assistance and up to $1.3 billion in financial assistance for methane emissions monitoring and mitigation in the oil and gas sector.
- President Biden announced the Carbon Management Challenge in April. FECM is leading U.S. government efforts with our international partners to convene the now 20 and growing CMC member countries—representing every region of the world and featuring developed and developing countries and both major renewable energy and fossil energy producers—which have joined together to collectively advance projects sufficient to capture and store one gigaton of CO2 emissions annually by 2030.
- FECM is helping to convene 17 diverse natural gas importing and exporting countries, plus the European Commission and Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum, to build international agreement on a framework for measurement, monitoring, reporting and verification of greenhouse gas emissions across the natural gas supply chain to help drive continuous reductions over time in methane and CO2 emissions associated with natural gas production, processing, liquefaction, transport and end uses, both domestically and globally.
- FECM’s engagement teams continue to advance community engagement, workforce development, diversity, equity and inclusion, and environmental and energy justice by further institutionalizing these priorities in our project funding. We have undertaken a diverse and growing number of initiatives including the Mickey Leland Fellowship Program, twice annual dialogues with Western tribal energy leaders, the launch of the Responsible Carbon Management Initiative, and targeted engagements such as the recent Carbon Management Community Dialogue organized with former Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Climate Now.
- With support from DOE leadership and Congress, FECM is building on the success of its current critical minerals program by evaluating the potential for additional Research, Development, Demonstration, and Deployment (RDD&D) investments in the future of mining research that advances technological solutions to “surgically” extract minerals from ever deeper sources, minimize surface and environmental impacts, and improve public confidence in mining techniques.
- The Council on Environmental Quality has tasked FECM with organizing and staffing two federal permitting task forces authorized under the USE IT Act—one for federal lands and waters and one for private lands—to improve permitting and regional coordination to enable efficient, orderly, and responsible development of carbon capture, transport and storage projects.
- FECM designed the world’s first carbon dioxide removal purchasing program ever launched by a national government with the explicit aim of catalyzing corporate CDR purchasing. DOE’s Carbon Dioxide Removal Purchase Pilot Prize Program will award up to $35M of credit purchases across a range of technology pathways spanning direct air capture, CO2 mineralization, biomass carbon removal with storage, and other terrestrial and ocean carbon sinks.
- Following the FECM headquarters and NETL strategy meeting in DC this September, staff have hit the ground running on developing intensive regional analyses that combine NETL's deep expertise in geo-spatial mapping to identify opportunities for regionally diverse stakeholders to leverage resources available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act to support regional demonstration and deployment.
- With funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, FECM designed and launched the Carbon Utilization Procurement Grants Program to help offset 50 percent of the costs to states, local governments, and public utilities or agencies to procure and use products developed from the conversion of captured carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide emissions, thus helping to build markets and business models for carbon conversion.
As we enter 2024, I am excited about what FECM have accomplished so far and what we are poised to accomplish next year.