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Category — Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)

The “Fatal Conceit” in One Letter (‘carbon-negative’ power plants ready to go!)

‘You get what you pay for’ is a saying that is often invoked when the cheaper product disappoints. And when it comes to subsidizing agenda-driven intellectuals (versus open-minded scholars), you also get what you pay for–and way too much of it.

Such is the case in the greatly over-financed climate change/energy transformation field where the participants assume what must be debated.

Recently, the New York Times published a letter-to-the-editor under the title Carbon Capture. The missive stuck me as a problematic one in its public-policy leanings. And it (negatively) impressed me as an example of intellectual conceit,with both the problem and the solution being wildly exaggerated.

Here it is:

Possibly Unavoidable Answer on Climate,” by Eduardo Porter (Economic Scene, Nov. 20), is commendable for its recognition that we are in a race against time to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

His confidence in nuclear energy as a means for heading off the impending crisis, however, is misplaced for several reasons, the most important of which is that technology is available that can be scaled up far more rapidly, cheaply and with no risks to the health and safety of adjacent communities. [Read more →]

January 3, 2014   6 Comments

The Great Green Lie: CCS Today Is Not Like Scrubbers in the 1970s (Part II)

As noted in Part I, EPA’s 1971 sulfur dioxide standard was based on the application of wet scrubber technology. However, most utilities found it was cheaper to meet the standard by switching to low sulfur coal, rather than install expensive wet scrubbers.

Consequently, during the 1970s, demand for low sulfur coal skyrocketed. Western states, primarily Wyoming and Utah, benefitted; eastern coal producing States in Appalachia and the Ohio River valley suffered.

In Congress, lawmakers from eastern coal producing states sought to redress the economic harm resulting from fuel switching precipitated by EPA’s sulfur standards. Their solution was to require scrubbers at all new coal-fired power plants.

If utilities had to install sulfur controls, these lawmakers reasoned, there would be no incentive to switch to low-sulfur coal. (Of course, this is an absurd waste: From an environmental standpoint, there’s no benefit if a utility installs wet scrubbers and also switches to higher sulfur coal. But that’s a different story of legislative sausage-making. See, generally, Bruce Ackerman & William Hassler, Clean Coal Dirty Air, 1981) [Read more →]

December 6, 2013   12 Comments

The Great Green Lie: CCS Today Is Not Like Scrubbers in the 1970s (Part I)

High-ranking EPA officials, prominent congressional Democrats, and environmental special interests are peddling a great green lie regarding the Carbon Pollution Standard, the Obama administration’s boldest front yet in its war on coal.

These policymakers and environmental special interests would have the public believe that the Carbon Pollution Standard, which requires carbon capture and sequestration technology (CCS), is akin to EPA’s 1970s-era requirements that all new coal-fired power plants install “scrubbers” to control sulfur dioxide. What was good and reasonable then is so now, they reason.

Their analogy, however, is false. As set forth below, the history of the two technologies demonstrates that scrubbers, when mandated by EPA, were indeed commercially viable, whereas CCS is not now so. In fact, the comparison between scrubbers and CCS is even worse than wrong for proponents of the Carbon Pollution Standard, because it actually undermines their legal case for the regulation.

Who Is Making the Great Green Lie?

By EPA’s own admission, the Carbon Pollution Standard will have a negligible impact on climate change, due to the fact that the preponderance of present and future greenhouse gas emissions originate in other countries.[1] Given the rule’s inconsequential impact, its proponents need talking points. Thus, in an effort to make the Carbon Pollution Standard seem reasonable, its supporters compare it to a previous mandate for scrubbers. [Read more →]

December 5, 2013   2 Comments

The Waxman-Markey Gravy Train (Part II): Specific Winners in the Electric Industry

“No, I have to do this my way. You tell me what you know, and I’ll confirm. I’ll keep you in the right direction if I can, but that’s all. Just… follow the money.”

- Deep Throat to Bob Woodward, All The President’s Men (1976).

Yesterday’s post at MasterResource presented seven areas where the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454, aka Waxman-Markey) bribed segments of the electric utility industry into support. So it should come as no surprise that there are specific companies and technologies that are well positioned to gain quick, big bucks by its legislative requirements should climate legislation become law  in its current form.

I have discussed carbon legislation with many of these companies that publicly declare their concern about anthropogenic climate change yet privately see this as the greatest money-making opportunity of their lifetimes. The Bootleggers and Baptist model of government intervention is in clear evidence. Adam Smith must be turning over in his grave given the enormous “invisible handout” that Waxman–Markey provides to a select few in the electricity generation market.

Five Link Chain

In “Federal Actions Will Greatly Affect the Viability of Carbon Capture and Storage as a Key Mitigation Option,” released September 30, 2008, the GAO found that a key technological barrier to carbon capture and storage (CCS) deployment was a lack of experience in capturing significant amounts of CO2 from commercial-scale power plants. The significant cost of retrofitting existing plants, which it deemed “the single-largest source of CO2 emissions in the U.S.,” also hampered deployment. The GAO also found that both the EPA and DOE had yet to comprehensively tackle the full range of issues that would require resolution for large-scale deployment. The GAO was spot-on in their conclusions. [Read more →]

August 28, 2009   7 Comments