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Friday, February 01, 2008

Clean Coal?

President Bush, in the State of the Union Address:

To build a future of energy security, we must trust in the creative genius of American researchers and entrepreneurs and empower them to pioneer a new generation of clean energy technology. Our security, our prosperity, and our environment all require reducing our dependence on oil. ... Let us fund new technologies that can generate coal power while capturing carbon emissions. ... Let us create a new international clean technology fund, which will help developing nations like India and China make greater use of clean energy sources. ... The United States is committed to strengthening our energy security and confronting global climate change. And the best way to meet these goals is for America to continue leading the way toward the development of cleaner and more energy-efficient technology. To keep America competitive into the future, we must trust in the skill of our scientists and engineers and empower them to pursue the breakthroughs of tomorrow.

SciAm Observations follows up:

Clean Coal Turns to Cinders, by Steven Ashley, SciAm Observations: For those journalists who have been monitoring “clean coal” technology over the last few years, it was no surprise to hear that the U.S. Department of Energy has canceled its so-called FutureGen plant, which was to burn coal to produce electricity and then sock away the resulting climate change-causing carbon dioxide emissions underground. ...

Although many experts believe that truly clean coal-fired power plants, coupled with carbon capture and storage systems, offer one of the best hopes of keeping global greenhouse warming at bay during the next few decades..., there was always a sneaking suspicion that the government wasn’t completely serious about making the large investments necessary to make the new concept really work. Environmentalists had meanwhile complained that the estimated $1.8-billion FutureGen effort was a mere payoff for the politically connected coal industry, and one heard rising rumors that the costs of the project were ballooning out of control. Now the DOE says that it will instead fund “multiple” projects aimed at commercializing integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) coal plants by 2015.

You have to wonder whether such a decentralized effort, coming on the heels of the terminated project, will really yield any useful fruit in the long run. For no matter where you stand regarding climate change, the coal industry and our future energy needs, the U.S. must soon make progress on IGCC and carbon sequestration technology to have any chance of successfully meeting the minimum international goals for atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. The DOE, the energy industry and the American people have to bite the bullet and spend what’s necessary to make it happen here and, more importantly, in the rest of the world, where coal combustion is spiking.

And, from Mathew Yglesias:

Bias, Anyone?, by Mathew Yglesias: Dave Roberts notes that last night's CNN debate was the fourth such debate sponsored by a coal industry front group, and that, coincidentally enough, none of the four coal-funded debate broadcasts featured any questions about climate change. Your liberal media in action.

    Posted by on Friday, February 1, 2008 at 02:34 PM in Economics, Environment, Science, Technology | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (38)


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