Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) has introduced a bill called the Greenhouse Gas Emission Atmospheric Removal (or GEAR) Act. GEAR is designed to provide for bounties to be awarded to whomever accomplishes a specific task first – in this case scrubbing greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere to counteract pollution from human activity.

“Wherever you find yourself on the issue of climate change,” the senator said in a press release, “we can agree on one important dynamic – change awaits us.”
The bill would not aim to fund development of removing GHG emissions – the byproduct of hydrocarbon, or fossil fuel – but would incentivize gains made in the field with money rewards.

Awards would go to both public and private entities that have success in designing new technologies to remove and sequester GHG gases from the atmosphere.

I feel that bounties are a terrific way to provide incentives for people to enter emerging markets (and invest money in new technology develoment), and are a great tool in the market manipulation toolkit (alongside more traditional regulatory measures). The bill itself (S.2614) is short on specifics, but establishes a Commission within DoE responsible for formulating specific bounty values and targets, and stipulates that the government will have a stake in the intellectual property that wins the bounty (or bounties).

I suspect that at best conservatives will think that this is the full extent of what can and should be done by the government to address global climate change, and at worst that they’ll oppose this because it requires acknowledging that global climate change is a real issue and spending government dollars on that problem. Regardless, this is a good bill that does not prevent us from taking other simultaneous action, and I would hope it garners wide support. We’ll see if it makes it out of committee.

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