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Dems Introduce a Poisoned Apple for Coal

By Climate Guest Contributor on March 16, 2008 at 9:35 am

"Dems Introduce a Poisoned Apple for Coal"

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Remember Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, when the Queen’s poisoned apple causes Snow White to fall into a deep sleep until her prince comes to kiss her? If Congressmen Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Edward Markey (D-MA) have their way, coal-fired power plants will have a similar fate until they can be built with carbon capture and storage.

Tuesday the Congressmen introduced legislation that would put a moratorium on “uncontrolled power plants.” As if Wall Street‘s hesitance to finance coal plants and the looming Lieberman-Warner climate legislation isn’t a big enough hint, Waxman and Markey are hoping to send the very clear signal that regulation is on its way.

Sierra Club has a slightly different spin on the message for coal (subs. req’d):

Sierra Club national coal campaign director Bruce Niles said the Waxman-Markey legislation would challenge electric utility companies into following through on their multimillion-dollar commercial campaign aimed at promoting “clean” coal technologies. “This bill holds them to their rhetoric and will demonstrate whether there is any truth behind the industry’s slick public relations campaign,” he said.

Again, I find it ironic how much money the industry dumps into PR and not, well, the best way to generate electricity.

Back on topic… the bill proposes to ban coal plants that cannot capture and store 85 percent of their emissions and would stay in place until either the EPA (riiight) or Congress enacts global warming policy.

Though Waxman and Markey are two of the top seats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, I doubt this legislation will make it very far. Perhaps if it did, it could kick Congress into gear to discuss global warming legislation (at this point, the Lieberman-Warner bill) and move it through quicker so that the moratorium wouldn’t last as long. But since when has common sense and a clear end goal ever accomplished much in politics?

– Kari M.

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8 Responses to Dems Introduce a Poisoned Apple for Coal

  1. David B. Benson says:

    Would be helpful if congresscritters understood some of the implications of Peak Coal. Or is 2025 CE too far in the future for them to care about?

  2. Jay Alt says:

    Though Waxman and Markey are two of the top seats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, I doubt this legislation will make it very far.

    Many big banks have gotten the message. So the chairman’s idea has already had additional effects –

    Rural Utilities Service Agrees to Moratorium
    http://oversight.house.gov/story.asp?ID=1806

    That Includes a spillover into states neighboring your KS campaign -

    http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2008/2008-03-05-091.asp

    Over on Grist they tear hair over proposals to build coal plants in WV. But then ignore the fact the AEP proposal isn’t a Pulverized Coal station but a IGCC plant. And when carbon caps are put into place, AEP would presumably be ready to sequester theirs.

    Now I’d rather they do it all up front, now, altruistically. But given there are ~20 such CCS stations on the drawing board and none have yet been built, I think a CCS-ready plant is a big improvement.

    It should meet the requirements of James Hansen’s moratorium. No more coal-plants unless they are built CCS ready.

  3. Joe says:

    IGCC is not inherently “capture-ready.” That term is in fact meaningless as it is currently used.

  4. Jim says:

    Joe is exactly right. Calling any coal plant built without CCS from the outset “capture-ready” is ridiculous. Doubling the cost of the electric power, installing pipelines that carry dangerous / asphyxiating CO2 that could kill a city the pipeline ran through, setting up for nuclear industry-style long-term liability — it’s like calling a smoker “quit-ready.” Yup…

  5. “But since when has common sense and a clear end goal ever accomplished much in politics?”

    :)

  6. Beefeater says:

    All the talk and all the warnings and concerns about climate are going to get drowned out by consumers screaming about energy shortages, rolling blackouts and increasing costs. Try calming that mob when business has to shut down, homes go dark, cars have to be parked and American Idol can’t be watched. Explain that we have to wait for the perfect “Green” alternative power source so that a few polar bears don’t drown.

    For the foreseeable future we are going to have to rely on coal oil and gas, meanwhile I hope research will find that elusive breakthrough. We did replace whale oil and nuclear fission is only about 60 years old.

  7. Ronald says:

    Beafeater makes the point. We better have the solutions already in place before there are the electrical power shortages. That can be the efficiency or whatever, just be ready.

    People might complain about global warming being warmer in the short term, but they will be pissed if their air conditioners won’t run. This could be a ploy by coal plants owners and builders, saying go ahead, stop these electricity plants, you’ll come back to use in a few years when you need the things built and we can charge twice as much.

  8. Jay Alt says:

    Joe writes:
    IGCC is not inherently “capture-ready.” That term is in fact meaningless as it is currently used.

    I have spent some time looking for/at the technical capabilities of the Alstom chilled-ammonia process. Some good material can be found at Green Car Congress.

    Before reading that, I’d have agreed with your statement. But if the claims of the process are correct (and the fact firms are signing contracts worth hundreds of millions suggests they are), the plants AEP will equip (another in NE Oklahoma – how ironic) will be ‘capture-ready’.

    Those aren’t terms I prefer, I’d rather see something renewable go up. But it appears to be correct. The process is promoted as suitable for retrofits on PC plants. EPRI provides clients a list of various levels of equipment investment as options for later addition of CC.