That means funding large-scale projects through the Department of Energy and guaranteeing loans for private CCUS deployments, according to experts.
Charles McConnell, former assistant secretary for fossil fuels at the Energy Department, said the Obama administration in which he served made commitments to develop CCUS technology, but after the first four years, it became clear renewable sources were a greater priority.
The United States needs to have the confidence that the technology can work and that investment will lead to better project economics down the line, according to McConnell.
"That's what good government does. It seizes opportunity. It invests in it and it creates a cooperative spirit between industry and government to solve problems," he said.
McConnell, now the director of Rice University's Energy and Environment Initiative, is a strident advocate for the utilization aspect of CCUS. He believes selling carbon to drillers — who use it to squeeze oil from aging wells — creates a market-based solution that is bipartisan.
It appeals to Republicans who cherish energy security and economic growth, as well as Democrats and environmentalists eager to rein in carbon emissions.Stumbling blocks for CCUS
This model is not a silver bullet. For one, the amount of carbon the United States emits dwarfs the current market for carbon used for enhanced oil recovery, according to Howard Herzog, a research engineer at the MIT Energy Initiative who studies CCUS technologies.
However, conservatives and moderate environmentalists alike see this is an important stepping stone to clean coal, he said.
One key component is 45Q tax credits for using and storing captured carbon, Herzog notes. The program currently offers $10 per ton of captured carbon used for enhanced oil recovery and $20 per ton for stored carbon.
The battle in the Trump administration
Legislation introduced in the House and Senate last year would have extended the program, increased the credit amounts and lifted a cap on the program, which currently tops out at 75 million tons, half of which had been claimed by 2014.
The program had "for practical purposes, already expired because the lack of financial certainty regarding future availability of the credits deters private investment in new commercial CO2 capture projects," a group of environmentalists and energy companies said in a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee last year.
Herzog said states where drillers use enhanced oil recovery would likely develop CCUS projects if higher credits were available on top of the the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era rule that would regulate carbon emissions from power plants.
The Supreme Court stayed implementation while a lower court considers a legal challenge to the rule. President Trump is expected to sign an executive order that would revise or repeal the pillar of President Barack Obama's climate policy.
"With the Clean Power Plan up in the air, that additional driver may not be valid anymore," Herzog said.
Rice University's McConnell sees another asset in the Trump administration: Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
As governor of Texas, Perry established a clean-coal technology council and approved incentives for plants that captured carbon.
"This is somebody who's now in charge of the Department of Energy who absolutely gets CCUS," McConnell said.
Still, Victor believes it will come down to who wins the budget debate and ongoing funding feuds within the Trump administration. Perry very well could emerge as a vocal advocate for CCUS, but the Office of Management and Budget, led by fiscal hawk Mick Mulvaney, could set back Perry's efforts if it shapes up to be assertive, he said.
Should the hardline wing of Trump's inner circle achieve its "deconstruction of the administrative state," as White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon puts it, the programs that CCUS depends on will be the first to go, Victor said.
"It's very hard to see how a lot of [CCUS] gets done in the U.S.," he said. "I think it's a very bleak picture."