carbon capture and sequestration

Mon, 2014-01-13 01:30Sharon Kelly
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New Carbon Rules for Power Plants A Missed Opportunity To Rein in Natural Gas Emissions, Critics Say

One of the linchpins of the Obama administration’s high-stakes plan to address climate change moved one step closer to implementation this week, as the EPA officially published proposed new carbon emissions standards for power plants, drawing fire from environmentalists who say the rules for natural gas power plants are too lenient.

The proposed rules cover both natural gas and coal-fired electrical plants, which are responsible for 40 percent of America’s carbon dioxide emissions.

The rules would make it virtually impossible for new coal-fired power plants to be built, unless carbon capture and sequestration technology is used, but sets standards that can be easily achieved by natural gas power plants without using any similar tools.

This has led to an outcry from environmental groups like the Center for Biological Diversity.

“If the EPA is serious about the climate crisis, it needs to be serious about reducing greenhouse pollution from all power plants — regardless of whether they are fueled by gas or coal,” Bill Snape, the senior counsel for the Center said in a statement. “The bottom line is that we can do better.”

The rules for coal plants are not expected to have much direct impact on new power plant construction plans—utilities planned to build very few coal plants even before the EPA proposed its rule.

But once they are finalized, the standards for new power plants will trigger a key clause of the Clean Air Act, and the EPA will next be required to create similar carbon dioxide emissions guidelines that would govern the existing 6,500 coal and natural gas power plants nationwide.

It’s important because it establishes the form that these regulations will take,” John Coequyt, of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign told ThinkProgress.

The EPA move is part of Mr. Obama’s overall climate strategy, which disappointed many observers who criticize its support of fracking and its underwhelming effectiveness. “The Obama administration is aiming for reductions by 2020,” Brad Plumer wrote in the Washington Post’s Wonkblog earlier this week. “But that's not nearly enough to avert a 2°C rise in temperatures, which is the broader goal.”  

Mr. Obama’s climate plan calls for a heavy reliance on natural gas, which produces roughly 50 to 60 percent as much carbon dioxide as coal when burned, to help transition away from coal. But there is strong evidence that natural gas, which is primarily composed of the powerful greenhouse gas methane, may be worse for the climate than coal. The Obama climate plan, in that case, would represent a move from the frying pan into the fire.

Fri, 2013-06-28 14:21Sharon Kelly
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Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz Relies on Dubious Coal Tech for Obama Climate Strategy

The key takeaway from President Obama's major climate change announcement this week was his intent to batten down on coal. But if history is any indication, the man Mr. Obama selected to run the Department of Energy may have different plans.

Ernest J. Moniz has a long history of supporting coal-powered electricity, staking his arguments in favor of coal on a technology that remains entirely unproven: carbon capture and sequestration (CCS).

Mr. Moniz will be in a uniquely influential position when it comes to confronting these problems. President Obama announced that he would rely on executive agencies instead of Congress, so Mr. Moniz's Energy Department will play a crucial role in determining precisely how Obama’s strategy is administered.  

The day after Obama's speech, Moniz told Congress  “the President advocates an all-of-the-above energy strategy and I am very much in tune with this.”

What’s wrong with an all-of-the-above strategy? It extends reliance on fossil fuels, at a time when scientists warn that we can only burn twenty percent of current reserves before the world tips past the crucial 2 degree Celsius point. Beyond two degrees, some of the most devastating impacts of global warming will be felt. Keep in mind that, if all of the world’s coal is burned, global temperatures could rise by a jaw-dropping 15 degrees Celsius, a study published in the prestigious journal Nature last year concluded.

The stakes, when it comes to controlling American greenhouse gas emissions, are huge.

Tue, 2011-03-08 09:59TJ Scolnick
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Liquefied Natural Gas Exports From Shale Drilling in British Columbia, Nearly A Reality

Last week, the proposed Kitimat liquefied natural gas (LNG) development project on British Columbia’s west coast, run by KM LNG Operating General Partnership, awarded the global engineering and construction firm KBR, a former Halliburton subsidiary, an engineering and design contract for an LNG export facility at Bish Cove, some 15 km’s southeast of Kitimat on land owned by the Haisla First Nation.

Although KM LNG is waiting for final approval from Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) for a 20-year export license to transport of up to 13,300,000 103m3/year or 468 billion cubic feet/year of LNG, KM LNG is now a step closer to becoming Canada’s first exporter of liquid natural gas.

The majority of the gas will be sourced from shale deposits located in the northeast of the province, where hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) is widely used. From Bish, the LNG will transit on large tankers destined for markets in Asia beginning in 2015.

Tue, 2011-01-11 13:08Richard Littlemore
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Weyburn Carbon Capture Project Springs a Leak

Canadian Press reports that carbon dioxide is fizzing out of the ground over the experimental Cenovus (Encana) carbon-capture-and-storage project in Weyburn, Saskatchewan.

The evidence comes in a study financed by the farming couple who reported that they were finding an increasing number of dead small animals in a quary that also featured explosions and fizzy geysers.

Thu, 2008-05-15 15:44Kevin Grandia
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Clean Coal talking point: "Near Zero-Emission Free Electricity"

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (bought and paid for by the coal industry) was stumping its “clean coal” message in Huntington, West Virginia last week. If you aren't already skeptical about the notion of so-called clean coal, then check out this less-than-hopeful message from clean coal spindoctor Cathy Coffey:

We believe that technology within the next 10 to 15 years will be developed and tested so that we will be able to produce near-zero emission-free electricity from coal.” (My emphasis).

The message is carefully crafted and the “10 to 15 years will be developed and tested” message is subtle enough to be passed right over. The clean coal message might even leave you feeling a little hopeful.

Fri, 2008-03-28 11:04Kevin Grandia
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Is Burying Carbon in the Ground the Answer to the Woes of Coal?


They call it “clean coal. ” They tell us that the pollution problem is “fixed” and the solution to the greenhouse gas implication is just around the corner.

They say, “Don't worry that burning coal releases more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than any other fuel source . We'll soon 'sequester' that stuff: we'll bury it in the ground.”

How soon?

Burying the carbon produced from the burning of coal, so called Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS), isn't as simple as the coal advocates would have us think. At the rate CCS technology is being developed, Richard Branson will have figured out how to send tourists to Moon before we see anyone storing significant amounts of carbon under our feet.

Thu, 2008-03-27 15:31Kevin Grandia
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100,000 Wells Needed to Store US Carbon Emissions

Even if carbon capture storage technology was not a myth on par with flying cars, the reality is that in order to store the amount of heat-trapping greenhouse gas produced by the United States, “100,800 new wells would be needed by 2030 in America if Washington commits to meeting the Kyoto Protocol emission requirement and keeping total carbon emissions at 2005 levels.”

H/T to our friends at SolveClimate.com.
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