Op-Ed: ‘Good Money After Bad’ in Pursuit of Clean Coal

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Ryan Alexander for U.S. News & World Report:Earlier this month lawmakers tried to tack a package of energy tax sweeteners such as tax credits for carbon capture and storage to the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration. My organization, Taxpayers for Common Sense, opposed the entire package, which ultimately failed. However, the champions of “clean” coal were more successful in the energy bill that passed the Senate this week. And some lawmakers, the coal industry and even some environmental groups don’t want the gravy train to stop there. They are trying to use this momentum to continue a larger push for more federal support for clean coal.This current focus of coal-subsidy supporters is carbon capture and storage. The idea is that the industry will separate carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel-fired facilities and inject them into deep geologic formations, thereby allowing for the continued burning of coal (a priority for the industry, obviously) with a significantly reduced carbon footprint (a priority for environmental groups, among others). This is not a new idea, and billions in tax dollars have already been spent to develop the technology, but it is still years away from being commercially viable.With all the enthusiasm for carbon capture and storage technology, it is worth looking back on our experience so far and current energy market conditions. In 2012, the Congressional Budget Office studied the federal investment in this clean coal technology and concluded that the capture and storage technology is so expensive that 200 gigawatts of new coal-fired generating capacity would need to be built in order for it to be competitive with existing plants. In other words, the U.S. would need to nearly double the number of coal-fired power plants before this technology would be feasible.Yet in recent years, the abundance of lower-cost, lower-carbon natural gas has caused utilities to put a hold on investments in coal-fired power plants.Meanwhile, after all of the tax dollars thrown at this problem, there are currently no commercial ventures in the United States that capture, transport and inject large quantities of carbon dioxide for storage.Congress and the administration need to stop throwing good money after bad in this pursuit of “clean coal.” Taxpayers cannot afford it. We couldn’t three decades ago and we can’t now.Full item: Clean Coal’s Big Cost Op-Ed: ‘Good Money After Bad’ in Pursuit of Clean Coallast_img read more