The Clean Coal Scam and the Carbon Sequestration Myth

Tue, 2008-03-18 13:46Kevin Grandia
Kevin Grandia's picture

The Clean Coal Scam and the Carbon Sequestration Myth

UK columnist George Monbiot penned a piece today on the UK government's clean coal “great green scam.”

The scam Monbiot is referring to revolves around the notion of the potential for coal-fired electrical generation plants to bury their produced carbon in the ground, so called carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Large scale CCS is expensive and unproven technology being used by coal enthusiasts to convince governments and the public that coal is not a worry when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. As Monbiot reports, CCS is being touted in the UK as justification for building a new coal plant. Monbiot's punchline is that if the new UK coal plant goes ahead as scheduled it will be up and running by 2012, two years before the first CCS demonstration project is even built there!

And if the UK CCS “clean coal” pilot project is anything like the one underway in the US, we're in a lot of trouble.

In United States, CCS is being used by a coal industry front group called the “Americans for Balanced Energy Choices” to convince average Americans that coal is climate friendly. But in the US, like in the UK, there is not a single large scale project demonstrating the effectiveness or financial viability of CCS.

In fact, the US government recently pulled its participation and funding from a clean coal/CCS pilot project called FutureGen. In January of this year, the US Department of Energy announced that it would no longer partner on the pilot project after the development costs ballooned from $800 million to over $1.3 billion without even a spade hitting the ground.

Is CCS something we should all hope for and continue to work towards? Absolutely. But using CCS as the be-all-end-all of our climate woes is extremely premature and is very poor justification for continuing to build greenhouse gas intensive coal-fired electric generation plants.

On a related matter, we've started an online petition urging energy giant Duke Energy to drop start walking the walk on climate change and drop its financial support for “Americans for Balanced Energy Choices.” You can click here to go to the petition and sign your name.  

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