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Tech to pull existing carbon out of atmosphere is closer, more important than you might think

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Technology to draw existing carbon out of the atmosphere to combat climate change may seem far off, but a project that would capture a million tons of carbon a year is scheduled to open in Texas in 2022. 

Carbon Engineering and Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum, announced the project earlier this year. 

Brad Crabtree, vice president of carbon management at the Great Plains Institute, an energy-focused nonprofit, said several models for reaching the United Nations climate goals rely on direct carbon capture, as well as carbon capture technology for power, steel and other industrial plants.  

“To the extent that we want steel and cement in the modern world, we have to be capturing the CO2 from those processes,” said Crabtree, who is also director of the institute’s Carbon Capture Coalition. “In steel production, over half of the emissions are a result of the chemistry of the steel production process. The same is true with manufacturing Portland cement.”

To hear Crabtree’s conversation with MPR chief meteorologist and Climate Cast host Paul Huttner, including the cost of carbon capture, click play on the audio player above.

Correction:  A previous version of this story misstated Brad Crabtree’s name.  The copy above is correct.