Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New Coal Power: Advance or Big Mistake?

NY Governor Paterson today announced State support for an 'advanced coal' power plant in Jamestown. The plant is intended to be a demonstration facility for carbon dioxide capture and permanent underground storage, a still unproven technology.

'Advanced coal' is a new name for what the coal power companies have been calling 'clean coal'. To date, there is no such thing. It is not known whether this unproven technology will be commercially feasible, cost effective and environmentally safe. Electricity costs will certainly rise since 'clean coal' power plants will be expensive to build and operate.

Climate activists and environmentalists were not happy with the Governor's support for the initiative. “This power plant is ill-advised from both environmental and economic points of view and does not deserve to go forward,” said Walter Simpson, co-founder of the Western New York Climate Action Coalition and leader of a coalition of groups opposed to the plant. He criticized the Governor for "acting before an $800,000 New York State Energy Research & Development Authority-funded study to examine the geological and legal issues associated with carbon capture and storage in the Southern Tier region has begun". Brian Smith, Western New York Program Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment said “Investing millions of tax dollars in unproven, highly questionable technology is unwise.”

It is not known whether underground storage of carbon dioxide (carbon sequestration) is safe and permanent. Would you like to have toxic concentrations of carbon dioxide stored underground where you live? Suppose toxic concentrations of the gas leak out? What do you think: Advance or Mistake?

Here's Tom Toles' take on carbon sequestration:
[Click to enlarge]

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