Boulder County to spend at least $100k to store CO2 in concrete

Matt Whittaker
A concrete plant.Mussi Katz / Flickr

By Matt Whittaker / NewsBreak Denver

(Boulder County, Colo.) Boulder County plans to spend at least $100,000 on regional projects to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store the greenhouse gas in concrete as part of a wider carbon sequestration strategy with governments in the Four Corners region.

Carbon dioxide removal is an umbrella term for processes that remove the greenhouse gas from the atmosphere and lock it away in geological, biological or synthetic formations for decades, centuries, or millennia.

Scientists say pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere may be necessary, in addition to reducing emissions, to avoid the worst effects of climate change, which include heightened drought conditions such as those in Colorado that contributed to last year’s Marshall Fire.

“Less than a year ago, the most devastating fire in Colorado history destroyed over 1,000 homes in our community,” said Boulder County commissioner Matt Jones. “Boulder County knows all too well the catastrophic impacts of climate change, which is why we are thrilled to partner with other local governments to fight the climate crisis through carbon dioxide removal.”

Toward that end, Boulder County plans to spend $100,000 or more for an initial round of grants to fund projects involving sequestering CO2 in concrete, said Christian Herrmann, climate communications specialist with the county’s Office of Sustainability. After carbon dioxide is injected during the concrete-making process, it mineralizes into a permanent part of the building material.

Flagstaff, Ariz. – with which the county teamed up last year to start the group, called the 4 Corners Carbon Coalition – will also chip in, as well as new members Salt Lake City, Utah, and Santa Fe, N.M.

Additionally, Herrmann said that Boulder County spent $30,000 on consulting carbon scientists who are helping it launch a best-practices guide for local governments interested in carbon dioxide removal projects. 

Initially, the coalition had hoped to raise $1.25 million to support projects that will remove 2,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but those goals are now in flux.

“The concept of the coalition has evolved since those initial goals,” Herrmann said. “We now see the coalition as a perpetual platform, which means that our funding and removal goals are shifting and being developed.”

He said that the county, which is looking for more partners, will have more information about what those new goals will look like in the coming months.

In addition to removing carbon from the atmosphere, the coalition hopes its industry funding will help drive down the cost of currently expensive carbon dioxide removal technologies.

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Matt Whittaker writes about natural resources industries, including oil and gas, mining, renewable energy, agriculture and cannabis. He's been based in the Denver metro area since 2013. You can follow him on Twitter @mattswhittaker.

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