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On Friday, the US Department of Energy announced that it chose the first two sites to host facilities that will pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and permanently store it underground. The sites in Louisiana and Texas will be funded by money set aside in the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was passed early in President Biden’s term in office. They represent a major step for the US, as they’re not linked to a specific source of carbon emissions, and the CO2 they capture won’t be used for extracting fossil fuels.

They also represent a major step globally, as each facility is expected to have 250 times the capacity of the largest currently in operation.

In the long-term, it’s hoped that these facilities will operate as a service to reverse a century of unchecked carbon emissions. The danger, however, is that they’ll eventually be used to offset ongoing emissions and provide a rationale for the continued use of fossil fuels.

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