At the risk of obsessing, check out this new report on “clean coal” from the Center for American Progress.
I’ll let CAP do the talking:
…the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, an industry group comprised of 48 coal and utility companies. ACCCE spent at least $45 million on advertising this year to convince Americans that “clean coal” is the solution to global warming. The ACCCE companies claim that they “are committed to making coal a clean energy source.” Yet the coal mining and electric utility industries spent over $125 million combined in the first nine months of 2008 to lobby Congress to delay global warming pollution reductions until clean coal technology is ready.
Despite the ads’ claims, an analysis by the Center of American Progress determined that ACCCE’s companies spend relatively few dollars conducting research on carbon capture and storage, the most promising clean coal technology to reduce global warming pollution from coal-fired power plants. This technology would allow power plants to capture 85 percent or more of their carbon dioxide emissions and permanently store them underground in geological formations.
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Recently, ACCCE spokesman Joe Lucas admitted that the commercialization and widespread use of CCS is still 10 to 15 years away.
Quick note: many experts think 15 years is an unduly optimistic projection. It’s based on some rather rosy scenarios for both investment and technological development.
ACCCE continues to oppose mandatory reductions in greenhouse gases until CCS is commercialized… Yet ACCCE companies have created their own “chicken and egg” policy loop: no action on greenhouse gas reductions until CCS is commercialized, and no real action to commercialize CCS.
There’s plenty more at CAP’s website.
I suppose I should take a moment to clear up the record about my position on carbon capture and sequestration. So here’s the deal: I think CCS is a great idea. Truly, I do. If CCS technology ever becomes viable, and also cheap enough to scale up and put a big dent in coal-fired greenhouse gas emissions, I will be delighted.
The reason I’ve been harping on the “clean coal” is because, much like a unicorn, it simply does not exist. If did exist, then I would love it. But it doesn’t. And because it does not exist—and because the need to reduce climate emissions is paramount — it is exceedingly dangerous for us to base our climate strategies on the hope that clean coal will someday be real.
We already know how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In particular, we already know how to clean up the electricity sector. So we need to get to work post-haste doing the things that we can do right now. (And by the way, investments in efficiency and renewables can actually save us money in the very near term—just the opposite of expensive investments in unproven CCS technology.) In fact, the surest way to make CCS a reality is to force the issue: we should put a hard cap on carbon now, which will unleash a wave of investment into redesigning our energy system. But until there’s a legal limit on climate pollution, the coal industry has every incentive to keep kicking the can down the road..
According to Amy Myers Jaffe of Rice University this capturing of coal emmissions does not work. She said so on a recent Frontline.Others concurred and it was one conclusion of the program.Forget clean coal and forget this emmissions capture was what I took away from it. Another monumental waste of money like ethanol …
One of the items in my Christmas Stocking was “Earth, the Sequel,” by Fred Krupp and Miriam Horn of the Environmental Defense Fund. One of the main points of the book was that a cap on emissions would allow the market to sort out the best technology, which is much better than a government mandate for a particular technology. CCS may or may not become a major part of the solution.
Solving the urgent issue of climate change reveals both the double-speak of multinational corporate interests and the double-speak of some “environmentalists” claiming “cap and trade” and “emissions trading” are sufficient tools to save our planet. The deep divisions within the environmental movement are the direct result of foundations eager to lavishly fund “free market environmentalism” such as what EDF,WWF,TNC and other mammoth corporate- funded “non-profits” are employing in their greenspeak.Hopefully, people will begin to wake up and realize it was the deregulated markets that helped create our predicament, and “cap and trade” is as duplicitous and ineffectual as “clean coal”.
So you want the government to decide how to reduce emissions? I’ve got it—corn ethanol. Cap and trade is not deregulation. It is one big regulation—though shalt not emit more than xx CO2. Actually, I do agree with you that the trade part of cap and trade is susceptible to scams. A high carbon tax might be better. But the main point of Krupp’s book remains unchallenged. Government does not have any way of knowing which technology to reduce CO2 emissions will turn out to be effective, economically feasible and scalable. the “how to” is something the market should sort out.
No, I don’t want the corporate-controlled government, nor the “market” to decide how to reduce emissions, I want the people (“of,for,and by the people…”), informed by our most credible scientists to decide how to reduce emissions. The problem is, they are routinely overruled.I didn’t endorse corn ethanol—free marketeers do– nor did I claim Cap and Trade is a product of deregulation. Actually, cap and trade is RE-regulation, actively pushed by free marketeers such as Krupp.As far as “unchallenged” goes, Horn’s and Krupp’s thesis was eviscerated by Alan Greenspan himself, after recently admitting to the world there are structural failures in the foundation of free market theory which have led to our present global economic and ecological collapse. I urge you to follow the money. Krupp’s EDF is lavishly funded by multi-national energy corporations, and others invested in the status quo, most of which are global warming deniers pushing a plan”B” that is too little, too late: cap and trade, “American ingenuity”,fuzzy Mcmiracles.I heartily agree with you, a carbon tax is essential. Dr. James Hansen also agrees. His solution is a progressive carbon tax, the dividends of which, would go directly back to the people! That’s right, direct deposits to our bank accounts, bypassing congress, lobbyists, etc. It would entice illegal immigrants to get legal in order to score the dividends, because everyone pays the tax every time they consume products using fossil fuel: food, transportation, clothing, packaging, etc.There’s a way out of this mess, but not Horn and Krupp’s way. It will take an informed, energized populace to demand our government implement policies based upon the best scientific advice, ASAP.