Archive for Sunday, February 24, 2008

Governors: Black coal must be part of green energy debate

February 24, 2008


— Governors pushing alternative energy development are not shying from coal, a major culprit in global warming but also a homegrown energy source and an economic lifeline for many states.

Leaders of coal-rich states say clean-coal technology is a must. Governors from states without coal want more evidence the technology works.

"There's no doubt there's a tension and there's no doubt there is very rapidly growing public opposition to coal," said Gov. Jim Doyle, D-Wis. His state relies heavily on coal for power although Wisconsin is not a coal producer.

Energy tops the agenda at the governors' annual winter meeting. The group's new clean energy initiative seeks to promote renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

"Next-generation coal is going to need to continue to be part of our energy future for this country," said GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, chairman of the National Governors Association.

"It is abundant, it is available, it is Americanized in the sense that we control the supply," he said Saturday. "We would be incomplete and doing a disservice to the debate and the ultimate policy direction that we're going to take if we don't envision coal being part of that."

Next-generation coal typically refers to capturing and somehow sequestering or storing the carbon that coal produces. It also envisions reducing or eliminating emissions as coal is burned.

Pawlenty has embraced renewable fuels such as corn-based ethanol and conservation, but he also promotes clean-coal technology.

Such technology is a rallying cry for many coal-producing states. They say it is possible to continue relying on the fossil fuel while minimizing its impact on the environment.

A president of one of the country's biggest power companies urged governors not to dismiss coal, calling it our most abundant energy resource.

"We cannot ignore coal, we cannot demonize coal," said Thomas Farrell, chairman of Richmond, Va.-based Dominion Resources Inc.

The key, says Gov. Brian Schweitzer, D-Mont., is a national energy policy with many options and sources.

Coal "has a CO2 problem, wind has a reliability problem, solar has a price problem, nukes have a price and radiation problem," Schweitzer said. "So all of those technologies have opportunities, but they all have problems - coal's no different."


Bill Griffith 7 years, 9 months ago

I agree with Governor Schweitzer's statement that "the key is a national energy policy with many options and sources." The first pillar of a national energy policy is the cap-and-trade legislation we will see from Congress in thenext 18-24 months. That will set a price on carbon so companies, investors, researchers, and others will have a clear price signal on cost. Also, a national energy policy must put serious money into research with regards to battery technology, capacitors, renewables, and carbon sequestration. Thirdly, we will soon have a Renewable Energy Standard that will require a certain amount of energy efficiency and renewables by providers of power. The first and third points I mentioned will happen within two years, the research element will be a question of how much money and which source gets which piece of the pie.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 years, 9 months ago

National energy policy will only include anything that can make money for the corporations, that means oil and coal. Sure, eventually developing greener, renewable forms of energy will make money, but they think only of the here and now, not the future. This is what will really destroy the US, the lack of vision.

Bill Griffith 7 years, 9 months ago

"National energy policy will only include anything tha can make money for the corporations, that means oil and coal." Again, there will be a cap-and-trade law withing two years nationally. All three presidential candidates support this. This will be a big hit on coal companies because carbon sequestration will be down the menu list quite a ways due to costs. Wall Street will do well with the auctioned carbon credits, as will GE and others of its type developing wind, energy efficiency, and possibly nuclear technology and products. I doubt if we have a renewable goal of 40% by 2020 since that is only 12 years away and the legislation will not be in place until spring of 2009 at the earliest. It is a nice thought but the penetration of renewables will not allow for that to happen even under a so-called Marshall Plan. If we factor in energy efficiency as well and make it a RES instead of a RPS-then it could be conceivable-I have seen numbers/projections on that scenario.

toefungus 7 years, 9 months ago

Reduce population, reduce energy needs. Pretty simple.

JSpizias 7 years, 9 months ago

Roger Pielke Jr. has two interesting posts on his Prometheus blog about climate. The first is a paper by two distinguished English scholars from the James Martin Institute for Science and Civilization at Oxford and the London School of Economics (Steve Rayner and Gwyn Prins) entitled "The Wrong Trousers" (available for downloading) that examines the serious, indeed fatal, flaws in the Kyoto approach to climate and urged that they be avoided in the recent meeting in Bali. Below are some comments by these authors.

"Both in moral as well as in operational terms, Kyoto is predicated upon changing the world first in order to meet it goals, rather than taking the world as it is and seeking ways to build on possibilities and dynamics already present. This is a profound philosophical difference between Kyoto supporters and the one that we advocate in Part Three of this essay"...............

"The top-down creation of a market in emissions was an integral part of the Kyoto approach. But it has hardly been successful. In fact, the boom and bust of carbon trading so far and especially of the carbon offset business within it, has manic and fantastical qualities reminiscent of the South Sea Bubble of 1720, or the Dutch tulip investment mania of the seventeenth century."...............

"Both writers of this essay began to be engaged with the issue of climate change in the mid-1980s when the task was to gain any audience at all for the discussion....... Today, we find that we are like coachman on a runaway stage coach, tryiing to rein back bolting horses, crying "Whoa! Whoa! before an accident happens".

The second post discusses a book that proposes that democracy is no longer feasible in dealing with climate change (The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy), that what is needed is "Authoritarianism of Experts" Some comments from the book:

"Liberal democracy is sweet and addictive and indeed in the most extreme case, the USA, unbridled individual liberty overwhelms many of the collective needs of the citizens. . .

"There must be open minds to look critically at liberal democracy. Reform must involve the adoption of structures to act quickly regardless of some perceived liberties. . ."

"We are going to have to look how authoritarian decisions based on consensus science can be implemented to contain greenhouse emissions."

On their book page they write:

[T]he authors conclude that an authoritarian form of government is necessary, but this will be governance by experts and not by those who seek power.

The Kyoto approach is an abject failure, and if we are to develop a rational energy policy we must recognize this fact.

Bill Griffith 7 years, 9 months ago

The Prometheus blog has some interesting assertions. I tend to agree that an authoritarian "fix" by experts would be great-however, given that the U.S., Europe, Australia, and Canada don't work this way, it is a challenge. Our solution (such as it will be) will be some type of authoritarian treaty with effective teeth that bite in the correct place.

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