Pennsylvania Legacies #198: Clearing the Air

Pennsylvania could be the future site of a direct air capture (DAC) hub, according to a report from the Great Plains Institute. What potential does the technology hold, and why are some areas better candidates than others?

In the global race to reach net zero emissions, it’s becoming clear that reducing greenhouse gas emissions alone may not be enough. Negative emissions technologies, which remove CO2 that’s already been released, have emerged as a necessary piece of the decarbonization puzzle. 

On this episode of Pennsylvania Legacies, we speak with two contributors to a report that evaluates prime locations for direct air capture (DAC), a negative emissions technology that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. That’s opposed to carbon capture, which takes place at the point of emission, such as power plants. 

The Great Plains Institute’s Atlas of Direct Air Capture, Opportunities for Negative Emissions in the United States identified seven regions as prime locations to develop regional DAC hubs, each with its own unique set of advantages: California, the Rockies & Northern Plains, Permian, Midcontinent, Gulf, Midwest, and Mid-Atlantic & Great Lakes regions.

The report comes at a time of historic investments in the technology, including the 2022 Infrastructure Law‘s $3.5 billion program that will support four large-scale, regional DAC hubs. Last week, the Biden Administration announced another $1.2 billion from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to build DAC hubs in Texas and Louisiana. Based on the Atlas‘ suitability scoring, Pennsylvania could be the site of a future DAC facility. 

“There is a lot of great potential for Pennsylvania,” said Emma Thomley, the state and regional policy specialist for GPI’s Carbon Management team. 

The majority of the state has the resources needed for a DAC facility, like geological storage options and low-carbon energy sources. 

DAC uses what could be described as a giant vacuum cleaner to absorb the air and heat to isolate the CO2. A single DAC facility can remove thousands of tons of carbon dioxide each year and with future advancements could reach one million tons of CO2 per year. The captured CO2 can be used to make other products, like carbonated beverages and cement. The Atlas looked specifically at sequestering CO2 underground.

“In our case, we were looking at large scale, something that could be easily shown at a national scale,” said Ryan Kammer, GPI’s research manager for the Carbon Management team.

But the technology isn’t without its own challenges. A DAC hub requires a lot of energy to heat the air, as much as 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit in some cases. Depending on the source of that energy, hubs could end up absorbing less CO2 than they’re generating.

One idea to reduce DAC’s own carbon footprint is to employ residual energy from places like steel and glass plants, a process called waste heat recovery.

“It really presents new opportunities to just build onto existing infrastructure and existing facilities,” Kammer said of the process.

Among the considerations the Atlas used to score regional suitability for DAC facilities is proximity to low-carbon heat and electricity sources. 

And like any negative emission solution, DAC is less efficient and less cost-effective than simply preventing emissions in the first place. It needs investment to scale up. But Kammer and Thamley believe that DAC provides a critical tool to reduce emissions.

“It’s really just one piece of the decarbonization puzzle, and we’re going to need to use all the methods that we can to capture and remove carbon dioxide, both nature-based and engineered to meet our global net zero goals,” Thomley said.

Episode links:

Report: Atlas of Direct Air Capture, Opportunities for Negative Emissions in the United States 

Report: Successful Deployment of Carbon Management and Hydrogen Economies in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 


Photo credit: Luke Lawreszuk

Josh Raulerson (00:01)
It is Friday, August 18th, 2023. I’m Josh Raulerson, and this is Pennsylvania Legacies, the podcast from the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. Well, there’s no getting around it. Fighting climate change means reducing carbon emissions, eventually to zero. Investing in zero-carbon energy sources is a great start, but Pennsylvania needs an all-of-the-above strategy that also accounts for less clean energy sources and industrial activities that are pumping out carbon pollution right now. Carbon capture utilization and storage is one way to lessen the impact of burning fossil fuels. Normally, it’s something that has to happen on site at the source of pollution through built-in systems that contain greenhouse gases before they can escape. Anything that finds its way out of a smoke stack without being captured, of course, will continue to accumulate in the atmosphere. But what if there was a way to claw back some of those emissions — essentially to pull carbon dioxide directly from the air?

That’s the premise behind direct air capture, abbreviated as D A C or DAC, and it’s pretty much what it sounds like. DAC is not a silver bullet by any means. It’s still in its infancy, and it’s not feasible everywhere. Even if it were, any negative emission solution is by definition going to be less efficient and less cost-effective than simply preventing emissions in the first place. Still, the technology has been advancing, and there’s reason to think direct air capture could make a difference if deployed in the right way. Our guests on this episode have been trying to figure out how that might work. They are contributors to a new report that looks at the most promising places for DAC deployment in the U.S., and Pennsylvania is very much on the map. Ryan Kammer is senior policy manager at the Great Plains Institute, and Emma Tomley is a policy specialist. They join us now for a look inside G’S Atlas of Direct Air capture, published in March. Emma, Brian, thanks for being here.

Emma Thomley (1:56)
Thanks, Josh. Great to be here.

Ryan Kammer (1:59)

Thanks for having us.

Josh Raulerson (2:00)
We’re here to talk about direct air capture, something that a lot of people may have heard about, but I don’t know how well people will necessarily understand the technology. So a little primer on how this technology actually works would be a great way to start. What are the sort of the different ways of doing direct air capture, and how is it different from other forms of carbon capture that people might be familiar with?

Ryan Kammer (2:22)
Sure. Yeah. So yeah, my name is Ryan Kammer. I’m the research manager here at Great Plains Institute. Direct air capture is, is one method for lowering emissions or early, in this case, removing legacy emissions of CO2 from the atmosphere. So yeah, so typical locations that we, we are talking about carbon capture is really, it’s a capture versus removal. So those might be from, you know, power plants, from ethanol facilities, other industries. In this case, we don’t necessarily have a, a source of CO2. We just have the concentration of CO2 in the ambient air that we’re removing from. So typically when we talk about direct air capture, and we’ve kind of started to see even more various technologies coming out, but typically we, we kind of separate them into two separate, uh, types.

We have low temperature, direct air capture, and high temperature direct air capture. For both of those, we, um, typically have a, some sort of fan system that’s bringing air through,  the system. The, the director capture facility at that point is really where they start to differentiate in how they’re then removing the CO2 from the air that’s being contacted. With low temperature, we have typically a solid sorbent of some kind. And then really where the name low temperature comes is that in order to then remove the CO2 from whatever kind of filter you have, so in this case it’s as sorbent of some sort. To remove that, you are using a, a low amount of heat or a low temperature heat to remove that. And at that point, it’s going to be very similar to various capture technologies that we are already looking at where you’re going to, uh, compress it, you’re going to dehydrate and you’re gonna transport and store where you need. A high temperature, as the name suggests, uses high temperature and typically with a liquid solvent, uh, same thing process going on where you’re contacting air with that solvent door and some, some mechanism that they’re, you know, each company’s going to be doing that differently. Really then what you’re using is you’re using a high temperature, uh, and when I say low temperature, high temperature here, it’s, it’s like a, a roughly one, 100 degrees Celsius, you know, at, at the lower end for the low temperature with, or I guess the, the number there, and then more like 900 degrees Celsius or, you know, closer to almost 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, uh, for your high temperature. So there is a, a pretty significant gap between the two, although again, we’ll start to see kind of different technologies come up that might be in between those. But essentially you’re just trying to remove that CO2 um, with some sort of “filtering,” you know, I’m, I’m using quotes there, filtering system, and then you separate it from your filter so that it’s a pure CO2 source that you can inject and store.

Josh Raulerson (4:48)

It’s very tempting to say like, okay, so we, we have the ability to suck carbon dioxide out of the air. Does that take any of the pressure off of the need to decarbonize elsewhere and, you know, lower emissions preemptively? What, where, where does this fit into the, the, the broader strategy?

Emma Thomley (5:04)
Yeah, so direct air capture, it’s really just one piece of the decarbonization puzzle, and we’re going to need to use all the methods that we can to capture and remove carbon dioxide, both nature-based and engineered to meet our global net zero goals. Some of these methods include bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, reforestation and afforestation enhance mineralization and ocean fertilization. As for how DAC fits into this larger picture, as Ryan mentioned earlier, it gives us an opportunity to address legacy carbon emissions in the atmosphere, and it can provide permanent and quantifiable geologic storage. It can also be cited in any location that has the low carbon inputs it needs. It’s not tied to the presence of a specific resource or facility, and it also offers a smaller land footprint than many other forms of carbon dioxide removal on a per ton basis and could replace natural sources of CO2 for industries that use it, like the food and beverage industry.

Josh Raulerson (6:01)
So you just mentioned several other approaches to removing carbon, you know, negative emissions. Reforestation is something that PEC does a lot of work on, so that’s something we’re interested in. But when you look at the, sort of the panoply of options out there, where does DAC fit in, in terms of, you know, readiness? How, how scalable is it? How cost efficient is it, and what are the constraints on larger scale deployment?

Ryan Kammer (6:27)
Yeah, so I’ll start with the kind of the readiness and cost efficiency and scalability part. I think the first answer to kind of where it fits with the other negative emission solutions is it really just depends. And, and, you know, we at GPI, and I think many, many people really see it as, as an all hands on deck approach, that really all of these are going to have advantages in different parts of the country, in different parts of the world. And so what we wanted to do with the Atlas is just kind of provide a resource assessment for where direct air capture might be best suited, not not necessarily best suited compared to other technologies, but where the technology itself would be best. For readiness, it really depends on the technology. You know, we’re starting to see facilities in the thousands of tons per year with we, and, but we also have multiple announced projects that are hoping to reach a million tons per year in the next five to seven years or so which would really be a, a huge step and, and an exciting next chapter in direct air capture.

So because of that, I think readiness is kind of one of those. Some of them are, are certainly ready to scale, and some of them are exciting opportunities that, that show other efficiencies that may be something that once they are at scale, will be, will be very attractive. For cost efficiency, it really just depends on a lot of different factors. As Emma mentioned, you know, when you think of cost, you know, you can certainly talk about money, but there are also other costs involved, like the cost of land and the cost of, uh, of, of space. And then as, as Emma mentioned, the opportunities to use CO2 that is, uh, being directly removed from this, from the atmosphere, uh, in existing industries where we can offset natural sources of CO2 is certainly another attractive opportunity.

And so really for cost efficiency, I think there are some challenges still, especially being a newer technology that, you know, it’s certainly maybe on a, on a per ton basis is not going to always be competitive with other opportunities. And so if that’s the case in certain parts of the country, that’s fine. You know, we’re pushing for all methods of, of removing CO2. When you look at, at some of the opportunities that can really get low cost energy and, and low cost, low carbon energy, that really is where it can become a, an, an, an efficient opportunity. And then finally, for scalability, as Emma mentioned, one of the advantages of direct air capture is that as it scales, it’s expected to remain a pretty small land footprint. And so, um, scalability can kind of change depending on the technology the way that they scale. One of them might just be a larger facility versus more small facilities. You know, both of those are scaling, but they’re scaling slightly differently. But in both cases, really, we’re seeing that even at scale, their projected land use is still gonna be pretty small, which I think is a good opportunity in certain parts of the world and country, uh, to, to really have, have this be an effective form

Emma Thomley (9:16)
As far as the constraints to large scale deployment — technological, economic regulatory — we can really improve on all of those factors to help support large scale deployment of DAC’s main technological barriers that it’s not as efficient as point source carbon capture because that CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is much lower. But we’ve seen a lot of innovation in DAC in the past few years, and we’ll continue to see the technology improve with time on the regulatory side, where all carbon management projects, including DAC. A state typically needs to assign a state agency to permit and oversee projects and establish rules for long-term geologic storage, ownership, stewardship, or liability of storage. C o two. Among other things, states might also apply for classics primacy from the E P A to take over permitting of these storage wells, which can help speed up the process considerably for economic constraints.

DAC is still a newer technology, and it needs investment to scale up. While the Inflation Reduction Act increased tax credits for carbon dioxide stored from direct air capture to $180 per ton in saline storage formations, the cost of most DAC technologies are above that. So they’re going to be reliant on other methods for getting through getting funds through either public or private investment. We’ve seen substantial federal investment in carbon management over the past few years through the bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides over $12 billion in funding over a five year period to scale the carbon management industry and the, and $3.5 billion over five years for the development of four regional DAC hubs. So that investment is promising for the development of DAC.

Josh Raulerson (10:56)
So the focus of this report is where are the best opportunities. So first of all, how do you define that? What are your parameters for identifying areas that would be really good for direct air capture? And, you know, applying those parameters. What did you find? What, what are the places in the United States that seem to have the most potential?

Ryan Kammer (11:16)
Yeah, so I guess I’ll start kind of with what, what we looked at our resource assessment. So there’s really kind of two ways to think about what makes an area suitable, either the technology, what, what’s needed to make the technology work, but there’s also going to be a citing constraints side that is going to be much more localized. It’s going to be much more kind of, you know, what, what’s available in the area, what sort of other opportunities or questions need to be answered. Things around, you know public questions and sentiment and willingness or desire to do projects like this. We don’t necessarily include that in our project. We’re looking more at with a resource potential. And so really then when you’re looking at what makes an area suitable for direct air capture from a technology standpoint, it comes down to, to really four things that I think about.

So the first is you have to have air. Fortunately, we, we have that everywhere, but certain parts of or certain atmospheric conditions make it more optimal for different technologies. And so a lot of the studies so far have shown that higher temperatures and higher relative humidity can help in the optimization of the technology. But there are some technologies out there that actually can work for the opposite. They’re saying, Hey, give us, give us cold, dry air, and we’ll, you know, our technology works well. So really that, that’s, that’s a nice advantage of direct air captures that it’s not, it’s not just one tool. It’s, it’s a lot of different tools or a lot of different technologies that are falling under an umbrella that can work in different ways. So air and atmospheric conditions is the first thing to look at.

The next is have having some place to store or use the CO2. So in this case, for our Atlas, we looked only at geologic storage opportunities. There certainly are, are utilization opportunities for different things that, as Emma has already mentioned, food and beverage would be one of them. Certainly concrete as an exciting new new area. But in our case, we were looking at large scale, something that could be easily shown at a national scale, and there’s a lot of national data sets around geologic storage. And so we started with that. After you have those two, you, you need electricity to power your facility typically as part of, like, as running the fans and ringing the air to the system. Potentially on the, on the other side about compressing and, and dehydrating, you might have to use electricity there as well.

And then you also are going to have, so I guess for there, you’re going to look at low carbon electricity in different ways. This can be things like geothermal, biomass, solar, uh, possibly different, uh, different forms of traditional power with carbon capture and anything where you’re, you’re having a low carbon electricity supply and then finally having a low carbon heat supply. So in this case, the heat, as I mentioned earlier, is used to separate the CO2 from the process. They have a pure CO2 for storage. And so in that case, we looked at things like geothermal as well as solar and biomass. Those, all three of those can kind of be used for both electricity and the heat. We also looked at waste heat and then finally again, looking at traditional power with, with carbon capture as opportunities for your heat source. But really the, the value of direct air capture, as I mentioned, is that all of those can be varied throughout the country. So  I’ll, I’ll let Emma kind of talk about the different areas that we identified from that.

Emma Thomley: (14:22)
Thanks, Ryan. Yeah. After we took a look at all of those factors that Ryan just mentioned, we ended up identifying seven regions across the U.S. that are most suitable for the development of DAC hubs. These seven regions were California, Rockies and Northern Plains, the Permian mid-continent, the Gulf, the Midwest, and the Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes. This might seem like a, a lot of regions, but that’s one of the key features of DAC like we’ve been talking about today. There are many places that could be great candidates for this technology, and all of these regions hold great promise based on those factors that Ryan mentioned. Although each one of those is unique. For example, the Gulf region has warm air, geologic storage and infrastructure; the Midwest has increasing low cost electricity and the potential for waste heat recovery. Those individual factors make each a great candidate for DAC.

Josh Raulerson (15:17)
Focusing in on the mid-Atlantic and Pennsylvania where we’re based, where do you see the opportunities? Like I know we have, the state is looking into currently potential for geologic storage. There’s a lot of, you know, clean energy development happening, especially in, in and around the Pittsburgh area where I am. There’s a push to, to establish a hydrogen hub here. How do these pieces fit together and how, you know, how does DAC fit with this picture? Is there potential here?

Emma Thomley (15:41)
Yes, I’d say that there is a lot of great potential in Pennsylvania. If you take a look at the Atlas and look at that final figure, which shows our assessment of opportunities for DAC, you’ll see that the majority of Pennsylvania has the resources needed for a DAC facility. Pennsylvania has great geologic storage options in many parts of the state as well as offshore Atlantic opportunities. And we’ve also identified a significant number of facilities with waste heat recovery opportunities, which could be used as the heat source for separating the carbon dioxide, as Ryan mentioned earlier, from the solvent or the ent. As far as the hydrogen hub that you mentioned, the full proposal for that hub hasn’t been disclosed, so we won’t know for sure if the proposal intends to incorporate direct air capture, but there’s certainly going to be opportunities for DAC and a hydrogen hub as a low carbon fuel source in the DAC process.

Josh Raulerson (16:34)
Tell me more about the energy need for these kinds of facilities. You mentioned waste heat. I’m curious about that. Where’s the waste heat coming from? And then beyond that, how do you, you know, how do you ensure a net negative impact on the carbon budget if you need heat as part of this process? Where are you getting that from, in a way that contributes to climate goals?

Ryan Kammer (16:55)
Yeah, so I’ll start with the, the how do you ensure, you know, that the heat and power are low carbon or net negative. So the first answer to that is like the actual insure, like the insuring part is, is part of a lifecycle, a lifecycle analysis that would be done for depending on how the CO2 is being stored or utilized, would be required to show that you are actually able to receive the credit. And that that’s going to be a lifecycle analysis, as I mentioned, which looks into the inputs of your electricity and your energy as well as the kind of the outputs of what, what ends up happening for the CO2 that’s being stored or used. So regarding what we kind of looked at then to provide low carbon, then it really kind of depends on the part of the country where you’re going to be able to find the best opportunities.

So in, in the case of some parts of the country, we have geothermal opportunities that can, can be used that are certainly going to be low carbon. That can be used for, for a low temperature direct air capture. And then we’ll see, you know, I, I think I’m, I’m, I’m really interested to see kind of this, this newer net power work that’s being done with, uh, in the Permian, uh, with Oxy, uh, their, their system is a newer type of, uh, technology for, for carbon capture with natural gas that, that the way that they’re doing things, it seems like an interesting opportunity to, to truly reach a net zero heat source with natural gas. So it’s really, I think a, a a, um, it’s certainly a question and a challenge that, that we want to make sure we’re ensuring is done properly.

We, you know, we, at GPI, we’re, we’re, we’re fans of, of the technology and we’re fans of the industry, but we also don’t necessarily promote, uh, in individual projects. We just want to be, be able to create a, a system or policy and, and understanding in place, uh, for growth in the area. So we’re hopeful that, that as projects, uh, come to fruition, they are done in ways that, that, that ensure that heat and electricity are, are low carbon, um, are opportunities. As far as waste heat goes, uh, I think waste heat is, is an incredible opportunity. It’s something that we identified opportunities as far as different industries, so whether that be various combined heat and power facilities, traditional power sources, uh, certain industries like glass and steel and, and certain parts of other industries in the petrochemicals, they all kind of have parts that are using heat that obviously when they, when they, the, the heat, the heat required is very high. And then as it’s used, the waste heat is lower than what was used in the beginning. And so now you have this heat that yeah, you can’t necessarily use for your, uh, industry, but might still be usable in different ways. We see this in other, other areas. I know, um, I’ve, I’ve worked at a power plant before that was sharing its excess steam that wasn’t no longer, it was no longer usable for their system. They were, they were passing it off to a, a paper mill nearby. And so it’s not a, a new idea to be able to use waste heat. It really presents new opportunities to just build onto existing infrastructure and existing facilities. I think the, uh, questions around how this might conflict with energy efficiency goals is an interesting question. You know, when you think about it, it’s like, yes, we don’t want to be doing something that would,  necessarily impair or inflict the opportunities to, uh, become more energy efficient.

I think then it really comes down to really picking specific facilities where, you know, that, uh, the likelihood of, of advancements in that certain technology or that certain energy efficiency, one are, are probably going to be doable, but they’re not going to be necessarily like, drastically changing how the system operates. But then two, that even if so like, say for example, um, you’re providing, I’m just going to make up some number, you’re like, you’re like, I guess you’re, you’re, you’re providing x amount of waste heat and that gets cut in half. Well, the direct air capture could still use that second half that, that maybe it’s not working at, at the full amount. You know, you’ve, you’ve increased your energy efficiency, but you still have waste heat. That direct air capture could still use that. And so now the opportunities are just making sure that from a cost perspective, you’re prepared for when you advance your energy efficiency on the facility, you still have opportunities to continue doing the direct air capture, if that makes sense.

Josh Raulerson (21:16)
This is all this conversation’s happening at a moment when there’s massive historic investment in clean energy, uh, at the federal level. A lot of that is tied up with the administration’s goals for environmental justice, for justice and equity broadly, how can we transition to a clean energy economy in a way that brings everybody along and lifts up the people that need it most. Is there anything particular about DAC that would support those goals?

Emma Thomley: (21:41)

I definitely think DAC can help support those goals. A great example is through the $3.5 billion federal DAC hubs program that I mentioned earlier. Programs like that one need to comply with the, the Biden Administration’s Justice 40 initiative, which broadly speaking ensures that 40% of the overall benefits of those federal investments benefit disadvantaged communities. So project developers under the DAC program must include an in-depth environmental pollution impact assessment analysis of cumulative pollution and make sure that they’re taking community benefits into, into the equation when they’re building out their projects. I also think that DAC as a technology can help support regional economies, and particularly those that are historically energy producing regions, including formal coal, former coal regions and oil and gas regions, and provide an economic boost to those areas.

Josh Raulerson (22:41)
What about downsides? Is there potential for negative impacts environmentally, you know, from this infrastructure, from, you know, this industrial activity, uh, land use changes, uh, what are the risks? 

Emma Thomley (22:52)
Yeah, of course. I think as with building any infrastructure, there’s going to be impacts during the construction process, and it should be developers utmost priority to reduce those impacts as much as possible. The one thing, unlike retrofitting industrial and power facilities with point source carbon capture, a new facility is going to need to be built through DAC. So you’re going to see an impact there. Although opportunities with waste heat could lead to DAC facilities being built at current industrial and power facilities, I think the, the most important thing to take into consideration is that each project is going to have a different impact. It’s going to have a different amount of transport infrastructure, depending on how far they are from the geologic storage location or the, the use or unitization locations of that carbon dioxide. But once the facility and that associated transport infrastructure is built, there should hopefully be minimal environmental disturbance.

Josh Raulerson (23:50)
Looking down the road a little bit, you know, obviously the goal is net zero or or negative carbon emissions eventually. And, and this is part of a, as we talked about, a suite of solutions that all have to kind of work in concert. Do we eventually hopefully reach a point where it’s no longer necessary? Does that kind of phase out as we transition to, you know, completely zero carbon energy sources, and then what, what happens after that? 

Ryan Kammer (24:14)
Yeah, I mean, I certainly hope so. I don’t think that necessarily happens in our lifetime. I think to start, you know, there’s, there’s kind of two questions there. First is, when will we actually reach a net, a fully zero, not net zero? I think when we talk about net zero, we’re talking about including things like direct air capture and other negative emissions to reach net zero, not just zero. So I think the, the first question is when will will that happen? And right now, global emissions continue to rise. They’re projected to continue to rise. That’s going to continue for a little while. The longer that we push off other opportunities to decarbonize, the more likely we’re gonna have legacy emissions to address. To kind of, to wrap up the, the net zero part, even the, like the, the, the International Energy Agency, they have various models where they project what, what, you know, our system will look like globally for energy supply. And even those certain industries, things like concrete and cement, steel and chemicals, certain, certain chemical facilities, even after adding a lot of different methods for decarbonization and carbon capture, there are still other parts of the process that make it very challenging to reach fully zero emissions. And so the likelihood to include direct air capture, even in their modeling by 2050, they were including continued direct air capture, about 400 megatons a year, a million tons per year for the, for the foreseeable future after that. And so I think the first challenge is reaching a fully zero carbon, uh, economy globally is, is, is something that maybe isn’t going to happen soon. It’d be fantastic if it did, but there’s just a lot of challenges to reach there and reach that equitably. And so second then is then even after we reach zero, uh, we still have the likelihood of, of legacy emissions to lower CO2 concentrations to really get us back to the, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere that we would like to have a sustainable future.

And so I think that’s also going to kind of extend the life of various, uh, negative emissions that are gonna be required. AS far as, you know, I’m totally fine hoping that someday we wouldn’t need something like direct air capture, because I think that means progress, but it’s the same reason I hope that someday we don’t need windmills. I hope that there’s other things that we can use that are going to be more efficient than having these large windmills. You know, it’s not that they’re bad, it’s just that they’re, they’re not perfect. And so I think as far as what then it’s, it’s hopefully then we, we have figured out all these other problems, problems, and that just mean that they’re not necessary

Josh Raulerson (26:45)
Considering all these possibilities. We’ve talked a little bit about what’s happening at the federal level to move it all forward. What about at the state level and to whatever degree you can localize it for my audience and talk about what needs to happen in Pennsylvania to really take advantage of DAC. 

Emma Thomley (26:59)
Sure. I think going back to a few things I mentioned earlier, there are, there are a number of things Pennsylvania can do to help support DAC and carbon management more broadly. First, they’re going to need to develop that regulatory framework at the state level for projects. And while they’re doing that, cultivate both industry and public support. I think the first, the two most significant issues facing Pennsylvania right now are the lack of what’s called pore space certainty. So the ownership unitization and long-term stewardship or liability of the, the stored carbon dioxide and the patients where it’s stored, and then also the certainty of a developer receiving a permit to store that carbon dioxide. So something that Pennsylvania could choose or could choose not to do is get class six primacy to help speed up that process of permitting a storage well for that carbon dioxide. Last fall, GPI worked with a nonprofit in Pennsylvania called Team Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Energy Horizons Cross Sector Collaborative, which is a Pennsylvania-based group that includes representatives from industry, labor, government, nonprofit, and academia, that those organizations are all working together on decarbonization solutions for the state, including carbon management and DAC and hydrogen.

And if you go take a look at their website, we also helped produce a report that goes into a little bit more detail on what the state might need to do to sort of succeed in that space.

Josh Raulerson (28:34)
We will absolutely link to that report as well as to your DAC Atlas for North America. Ryan, Emma, thank you so much for your time today. Thanks for being on Pennsylvania Legacies.

Emma Thomley (28:45)
Thanks for having us. 

Josh Raulerson (28:51)
Ryan Cameron and Emma Tomey are with the Great Plains Institute, whose Atlas of Direct Air Capture is available via the link you’ll find in the post accompanying this podcast episode on PEC’s [email protected]. It is one of several interviews we’ve done this year with researchers working on the science, technology and economics of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the commonwealth and beyond. Those include conversations about Pennsylvania’s potential for underground storage of sequestered carbon, about the environmental and financial cost of natural gas wasted by companies operating on leased public lands, and of course, our back-to-back episodes last month, looking at new economic forecasts for Pennsylvania as a participant in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. All that can be found along with news from PEC’s programs and partners working on watershed health reforestation trails in the outdoor economy, and equitable access to the outdoors on the website. Again, that’s Be sure to check in for the next episode of Pennsylvania Legacies coming out just ahead of this Labor Day weekend. Hope you can join us for that. Until then, for the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, I’m Josh Raulerson and thanks for listening.