Coal panelists argue for carbon capture

  • Market: Coal
  • 05/03/20

Developing carbon capture technology could do more to cut greenhouse gas emissions than trying to limit coal use, speakers at a coal industry forum said yesterday.

Speakers at the American Coal Council's Spring Coal Forum in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said coal use globally will increase as Asia demand growth outweighs efforts to cut consumption in the US or other regions. Instead of pulling away from coal, the US should focus on developing technology to capture emissions from coal and natural gas plants, they said.

Dan Byers, vice president of policy for the US Chamber of Commerce's Global Energy Institute, called the Green New Deal and other Democratic climate initiatives in Congress "unmoored from reality."

The Green New Deal resolution, introduced last year by senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) and representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) and supported by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (Vermont), aims to achieve a carbon-neutral economy by 2030, followed by a complete decarbonization of the US economy by no later than 2050.

"We are going to need some sort of technological breakthrough by 2050," to hit the Green New Deal targets, Byers said.

And while public polling indicates there is support for cutting emissions, the same polling shows an unwillingness by the public to pay for projects through taxes or other fees, Byers said.

The private sector, with support from the government, should lead the development of new carbon capture technology, said Luke Bolar, managing director of external affairs for conservative clean energy advocacy group ClearPath. The economic opportunities from carbon capture are significant, Bolar said. And federal action can accelerate that development.

Jonathan Wood, president of the public policy group EnergyBlue Project, said focusing only on cutting emissions in the US would have little impact on global climate change. New coal plants are being built in developing nations, and those plants are unlikely to close, Wood said. Instead of focusing on eliminating coal-fired generation in the US, efforts should be made to develop carbon capture technology and export it to the developing world, he said.

The EnergyBlue Project is working with state governments, including California, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Ohio, to build support for "fossil-inclusive energy policies," Wood said. Those policies could include support for carbon capture technology at existing power plants, as well as building CO2 pipelines and storage.

"We have to talk to our critics," Wood said. "We have got to talk to our skeptics."


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