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Senate ‘Improvements For Integration’ Loophole May Make $4.6 Billion ‘Clean Coal’ Fund A Dirty Giveaway

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"Senate ‘Improvements For Integration’ Loophole May Make $4.6 Billion ‘Clean Coal’ Fund A Dirty Giveaway"

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As the Wonk Room has discussed, the Senate version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act adds $2.2 billion to the House’s generous allocation of $2.4 billion for the development of “carbon capture and sequestration technologies” (CCS). Furthermore, the Senate language adds a dangerous loophole that changes a potentially green investment into subsidy for a dirty industry:

Awards for such projects may include plant efficiency improvements for integration with carbon capture technology.

This “improvements for integration” provision is a major loophole, allowing the funds to be spent not just on the actual development and deployment of CCS, but anything else a power company can argue is related. These include the kinds of improvements plant and factory owners are already obligated to make to clean up their mercury, soot, and acid rain pollution. Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, tells the Wonk Room:

It sounds like they’re trying to get free money for what they’re supposed to do anyway.

As yet, the Congressional negotiators hammering out differences between the House and Senate versions of the recovery plan have not announced what the coal funding provisions will end up being.

Below is a chart and table explaining the differences in the House and Senate versions of the recovery plan for advanced coal funding:


Coal Fund Comparison in the Recovery Plan
Coal Funds In Recovery Plan

Decoding Coal Funds in the Recovery Plan
House (H.R. 1) Senate (S. 336)
For an additional amount for “Fossil Energy”, $2,400,000,000 for necessary expenses to demonstrate carbon capture and sequestration technologies as authorized under section 702 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.1
For an additional amount for “Fossil Energy Research and Development”, $4,600,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2010
Provided, That $2,000,000,000 is available for one or more near zero emissions powerplant(s)1
Provided further, $1,000,000,000 is available for selections under the Department’s Clean Coal Power Initiative Round III Funding Opportunity Announcement; notwithstanding the mandatory eligibility requirements of the Funding Opportunity Announcement, the Department shall consider applications that utilize petroleum coke for some or all of the project’s fuel input2
Provided further, $1,520,000,000 is available for a competitive solicitation pursuant to section 703 of Public Law 110-140 for projects that demonstrate carbon capture from industrial sources3
Provided further, That awards for such projects may include plant efficiency improvements for integration with carbon capture technology.
1 “Section 702″ and “one or more near zero emissions [fossil energy] powerplant(s)” refer to the Restructured FutureGen project.

2 The “Clean Coal Power Initiative Round III Funding Opportunity Announcement” refers to a distinct CCS program from FutureGen that has less stringent standards.

3A new funding stream for projects like methane capture from coal mines, landfills, and oil and gas wells.

Update

Initial news on the energy elements of the conference version of the recovery plan at Gristmill and Climate Progress.


Update

,The Wonk Room has acquired a new summary of the conference report: it appears there will be $3.4 billion in coal funds.

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