Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology could be a way to use America’s vast supply of coal while limiting carbon emissions. It’s also EPA’s technological answer to meet new greenhouse gas emissions rules for new power plants.
However, CCS is no where close to being ready, according to the Obama Administration’s former top official responsible for overseeing the technology.
The Daily Caller reports that Charles McConnell, former assistant secretary of energy and now Executive Director of the Energy & Environment Initiative at Rice University, told the House Science Committee:
“Studies have verified that implementation of [CSS] technology is necessary to comply with EPA’s proposed [EPA carbon-emissions limits] regulation and meet the [greenhouse gas] targets necessary for limiting CO2 emissions to our atmosphere,” McConnell said in his prepared congressional testimony. “However, commercial [CSS] technology currently is not available to meet EPA’s proposed rule. The cost of current CO2 capture technology is much too high to be commercially viable.”
McConnell told committee members that “affordable solutions may be decades away with the current level of funding” and and that “it is disingenuous to state that the technology is ‘ready’.”
Also testifying at the hearing was former EPA general counsel Roger Martella, who agreed and referred to the CCS mandate as “the fundamental and fatal flaw in EPA’s proposal.”
Why carbon capture technology hasn't taken off. http://t.co/OAiVMLU0e7
— The Week (@TheWeek) October 23, 2013
CCS isn’t viable yet. These experts and former administration officials know this and anyone who is studying the development of the first large-scale commercial application of CCS, the Kemper project in Mississippi, knows this.
CCS might become commercially available in the future, but right now it is EPA’s regulatory unicorn. The agency wishes it would work now so it could be the legal key to its overbearing greenhouse gas rule on new power plants. However, wishing won’t keep the lights on. Hoping won’t ensure that businesses and families have reliable electricity. Until CCS is ready for primetime, we need to continue improving current coal-fired technology to use our abundant coal supply.
The shale energy boom in the United States is creating jobs and economic growth, boosting incomes, and enhancing the nation’s energy security, according to a pair of recent studies.
Shale energy supports 377,000 jobs in the manufacturing, chemical, and energy transportation industries, according to a study by IHS, a provider of energy market and economic information. These jobs are in addition to the 1.7 million jobs directly supported by shale energy extraction.
The IHS report, the third and final in a series about shale, finds that shale energy production will increase manufacturing output by $258 billion by 2020 and $328 billion by 2025. In addition, $216 billion will be invested in manufacturing and energy transportation (e.g., trucking, rail, pipelines) between 2012 and 2025.
Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, highlights the positive pocketbook impact of the shale revolution. “The study shows that shale energy development increased the real disposable income of the average American household by more than $1,200 in 2012, providing further evidence that energy is America’s true stimulus, creating more jobs than any other industry today.”
This income boost is due to less expensive input costs for manufacturers—oil and natural gas are used in plastics, pharmaceuticals, and fertilizers—and lower energy prices for both households and industry.
In an interview with Fortune magazine, Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of IHS and Putlitzer Prize-winning author of The Prize, explains the importance of the shale boom to American manufacturing.
“It is important on an even larger scale for businesses that rely heavily on natural gas or electricity generated with natural gas—ranging from petrochemicals and fertilizer, to food producers and glass manufacturers,” he says. “For these companies, low-cost natural gas is a game changer and will stimulate an estimated $350 billion of new investment in the United States over the next dozen years. Such growth would have seemed inconceivable half a decade ago, when the expectation was that American manufacturers—and the entire U.S. economy—would have to depend increasingly on high-cost imports of liquefied natural gas as well as high-cost domestic gas.”
The study warns that job creation and economic growth would be hurt if the federal government were to impose regulations on hydraulic fracturing that duplicates state efforts. With new federal regulations, the report estimates a 52% decrease in shale energy production by 2025, which would result in 1.4 million fewer jobs created in 2015 and $127 billion less in GDP in 2015.
“The federal government is risking the only reliable sector of job growth in the entire economy,” says Harbert.
Energy Risks Subside
A separate study, The 2013 Energy Security Index published by the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, shows that unconventional shale energy development is a major contributor to improved American energy security.
America’s energy risk score in 2012 fell to 95.3 from 102.0. The Index measures energy risks in 36 metrics in four categories: geopolitical, economic, reliability, and environmental.
According to the report, increased unconventional shale energy production “lowered U.S. energy security risks in 2012 by increasing supply security, reducing net imports, and putting downward pressure on energy costs and expenditures.”
The report points out that “the boom in U.S. energy production has come about largely in spite of national policy rather than because of it.” According to the Congressional Research Service, oil and natural gas production has been increasing on private and state lands while falling on federal lands.
Speaking to local chamber of commerce executives in South Louisiana in September, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue pointed out federal exploration restrictions off the coast of Louisiana and other Gulf states. “Some 87% of our offshore oil and gas resources remain off limits,” Donohue said. “We have more technically recoverable oil off our coasts than the proven oil reserves of Asia and Europe—combined. Clearly, we’re leaving a lot on the table, and the administration and Congress need to open up those areas for surveying and safe exploration and development.”
While the Index fell, it did so off its 2011 record high, and the report notes that energy security risk continues to be “uncomfortably high and is projected to remain so.”
“We still have a long way to go,” says Harbert. “But the improvements we’ve seen recently should give us hope that continued development of America’s vast energy resources will lead us toward greater energy self-reliance and security.”
The Index urges policymakers to see the present as “an era of sustained energy abundance” and not as an era of scarcity, warning that “overreaching by regulatory agencies targeting coal, limitations on access to resources on public lands, a broken siting and permitting process, and a flawed nuclear waste disposal policy, to name a few, create roadblocks that could squander the tremendous prospect of a secure energy future.”
There is no more free enterprise with the Affordable Care Act. We are a part-time economy. I am the forgotten. Female, 55, and considered not good enough for hire.–Mary Schade via Facebook
Try being a physician owning your own practice. We get hit with all of the aforementioned taxes, plus insurance is paying a lower rate for medical services. - The USA got what it voted for !! via Free Enterprise.com
In our small business, Seattle Gymnastics Academy, our medical benefit costs will balloon from $72,000 a year to somewhere between $132,000 and $244,000!— John Sweeney via FreeEnterprise.com
Obamacare is the enemy of full-time employment. – Bob Garrett via Facebook
You can add Wake County School, N.C., to the list of school systems that will cut all their substitute teachers and possibly more so that they don't have to either pay the tax, I mean fine, or offer them insurance.—Fred Kull via Facebook
Any fuel we do not have to buy from other country makes ours that much more stronger, wiser, and smarter.—Jim Puck via Facebook
I was just in North Dakota. They are indeed building a refinery ... on an Indian reservation. It should be finished by the end of the year. Entrepreneurs will find a way around government regulation.—G-mike via FreeEnterprise.com
There's not been a refinery built in the USA since 1979. EPA paperwork has killed every attempt. We've increased output only 3% since then due to upgrades and technology in existing refineries. We've increased consumption nearly 50% in that same time.—Matt via FreeEnterprise.com
The United States could finally become an energy independent nation within two decades... That is of course unless politics slow the rapidly expanding shale boom.—Tap Management via FreeEnterprise.com
Going forward with the Keystone pipeline will help the U.S. economy and is a no brainer. It is amazing that our 'leaders' won't approve it.—JeanSC via FreeEnterprise.com
Next year, EPA plans to release rules to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing electrical power plants. These rules put a target on all coal-fired power plants—which produce 42% of America’s electricity, according to the Energy Information Administration—and would have a devastating effect on coal mining communities and threaten the reliability and resiliency of the electrical grid.
With a policy so sweeping, you would think the agency would go to great lengths in collecting public input.
In its public outreach, EPA is holding listening sessions to “solicit ideas and input from the public and stakeholders about the best Clean Air Act approaches to reducing carbon pollution from existing power plants.” The Institute for 21st Century Energy produced a map plotting where the listening sessions are being held and the states that get the highest percentage of its electricity from coal. As you can see, there’s no overlap. Few of these sessions will take place where coal-generated electricity is most important.
For example, there’s no session in West Virginia, where 95% of its electricity comes from coal, nor one in Utah, where coal generates 81% of its electricity. Anyone living in Wyoming (88% from coal) or Kentucky (92% from coal) interested in the greenhouse gas regulations will have to travel hundreds of miles to give EPA their say.
Instead, the listening sessions will be in cities like Seattle, San Francisco, and New York City—located in states that get a tiny portion of electricity from coal. How representative will people attending these sessions be?
Let’s not forget about coal miners who will also be affected by regulating greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. EPA is ignoring them too. Coal Country decided that if the agency won’t hear from them, then they will go to Washington and be heard. The Washington Times reports:
Thousands of miners and their families will descend on Washington on Tuesday for the “Count on Coal” rally, bringing with them a simple message for the Environmental Protection Agency and other arms of the federal government that seem intent on relegating the fuel to the ash pile of history.
“The message is that there’s a lot of people out there in states that not only mine coal, but rely heavily on coal. There’s a lot of frustration building up at people here in Washington that they aren’t really listening and looking out for them,” said Hal Quinn, president of the National Mining Association, one of the rally’s prime organizers. “It’s a way of life. [Coal miners] are very proud of what they do for this country.”
These efforts put EPA on notice. It can’t craft far-reaching rules without taking seriously those who will be most affected by them.
If you’re claiming someone got their facts wrong, you better have your own facts right. Farron Cousins’ attempt at DeSmogBlog is pitiful.
In a post criticizing a recent column by U.S. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue on America’s energy abundance, Cousins writes:
Donohue is correct about the fact that domestic energy production is soaring, but he ignores the fact that this increase is directly attributable to the decision by the federal government to permit increased drilling on federally protected lands.
Increased energy production is because of more development on federal lands? Really? Cousins wants us to believe this.
For his evidence, he links to a CNN 2012 Obama-Romney President debate fact check. Maybe Cousins was in a hurry and thought the first thing that popped up in Google was good enough to link to, because clearly it appears he didn’t bother reading the CNN piece closely. It states [emphasis mine]:
Meanwhile, natural gas production on federal and Indian lands has steadily fallen, a trend that began around fall 2002.
On federal and Indian lands, as well as federally approved offshore drilling sites, oil production went up from 1.6 million barrels per day to 2 million barrels per day between fiscal years 2008 and 2010. But it dropped to 1.8 million barrels per day for the last fiscal year available, a decrease that the U.S. Energy Information Administration attributes to the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
But according to Cousins, increased domestic energy production is due to “increased drilling on federally protected lands.”
Let’s go to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service. Here’s a chart from a March report:
Those federal lines aren't going up.
The report states [emphasis mine]:
On non-federal lands, there were modest fluctuations in oil production from fiscal years (FY) 2008-2010, then a significant increase from FY2010 to FY2012 increasing total U.S. oil production by about 1.1 million barrels per day over FY2007 production levels. All of the increase from FY2007 to FY2012 took place on non-federal lands, and the federal share of total U.S. crude oil production fell by about seven percentage points.
On natural gas production, the report adds, “while production on federal lands (onshore and offshore) fell by about 33% and production on non-federal lands grew by 40%” since 2007.
For another way to look at recent energy production trends, here is a chart from the Institute for Energy Research based on Energy Information Agency data showing that the share of oil and natural gas produced on federal lands is declining.
The IER report also notes that the number of offshore leases issues by the Bureau of Land Management under the Obama administration has been “abysmal.”
Cousins should have done more research before hitting "publish." This is the exact reverse of what Cousins claims. We’re experiencing a domestic energy boom despite reduced production on federal lands. American energy production has increased because of development on state and private lands.
The energy boom, mostly due to shale development, supports millions of jobs (well-paying ones at that), fills government coffers with tax revenue, and produces enormous economic output. It’s the rock star of our sluggish economy.
To borrow from the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, I give Cousins and DeSmogBlog four Pinocchios.