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Last month, some of the biggest tech companies in America made headlines when they announced an unusual partnership to tackle one part of the climate crisis. The group, which included Google and Facebook’s parent companies and the payment software company Stripe, committed to spending $925 million over the next eight years to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

A week earlier, two members of Congress barely made a splash when they put forth a similar but much more ambitious plan — albeit more of a proposal. Representatives Paul Tonko of New York and Scott Peters of California introduced the Federal Carbon Dioxide Removal Leadership Act, a bill that would direct the Department of Energy to pay for an increasing amount of carbon to be removed from the atmosphere each year at a cost of about $9.6 billion over the first 12 years.

Both plans attempt to address a pressing question: How do you build a new industry to clean up the carbon in the atmosphere, a service that would benefit everyone in the world but that has no immediate utility?

“Carbon removal is unique,” said Erin Burns, executive director of the carbon removal advocacy nonprofit Carbo... Read more

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