Over the last decade, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) spent $1.1 billion on various projects that attempted to reduce carbon emissions through the practice of carbon capture and storage (CCS), only for the vast majority of these projects to either fail or be cancelled.
According to the Daily Caller, the waste of taxpayer money was revealed in a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that was released in December. The report revealed that the DOE had invested $684 million in eight different CCS projects that focused on coal, only for seven of them to be cancelled, while only a single facility remained in operation. The remaining $438 million was spent on three industrial CCS facilities; of these three, two were successful while one was cancelled.
The GAO claims that the reason for the high fail rate among the investments was the DOE’s failure to properly evaluate the kind of technology that was utilized by these facilities before awarding them with the money.
“GAO is making one matter for congressional consideration: that Congress consider implementing a mechanism for greater oversight and accountability of DOE CCS demonstration project funding,” the report read, in part. “DOE’s process for selecting coal projects and negotiating funding agreements increased the risks that DOE would fund projects unlikely to succeed. Specifically, DOE fully committed to coal projects at their initial selection as opposed to allowing time for further review, as it did for selected industrial CCS projects.”
Aside from the $1.1 billion on these eleven different projects, the DOE also spent about $472 million on the design of four facilities that were never even built. The GAO claims that this amount surpassed the originally-planned amount by over $300 million.
“According to DOE documentation and officials,” the report continued, “senior leadership directed actions to support projects even though they were not meeting required key milestones.”
The report was assembled after a law passed in 2020 required a comprehensive review of the DOE’s attempted implementation of CCS practices. As such, the review covered $3.4 billion in funding that originated with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the nearly $1 billion stimulus package signed into law by then-President Barack Obama.
Following the allocation of another $10 billion for similar carbon practices and projects as a result of Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill, the GAO report suggested implementing more regular reviews of the outcomes of such funding.