Coal Tattoo

Mountaineer Plant CCS: The future of coal?


Gazette photos by Lawrence Pierce

NEW HAVEN, W.Va. — Well, American Electric Power certainly put on a good show today at the kickoff even of its CCS pilot project at the Mountaineer Plant in Mason County, W.Va.

Signs with pretty green arrows directed visitors into the plant. Speakers were projected onto twin giant-screen televisions. Everybody got a parting gift: A nifty thumb-drive pre-loaded with promotional material on the CCS project.

Along the way, though, there was a little bit of interesting news …

First, Sen. Jay Rockefeller called for the federal government to spend $20 to $25 billion on CCS research and development. That’s more than twice the amount included in current versions of the climate bill in both the House and Senate. But, the $10 million in both bills is over 10 years, and Rockefeller declined to give a time frame for his much larger proposal.


Rockefeller also said that he wants the near-term emissions limits in the Senate bill — currently 20 percent by 2020 — cut back to 14 percent to give coal operators and utilities more time to perfect and deploy CCS equipment.

Interestingly, though AEP President Michael Morris — a major promoter of progressive climate policies among utilities — says he will continue to back the 17 percent by 2020 reduction figure in the House-passed bill.

We had a front-page story today based on my exclusive interview with Mike Morris, so I won’t say much more here about his views. You can read that Gazette story here. I’d also recommend my piece from last Sunday’s Gazette-Mail, “Coal vs. Climate: Will greenhouse controls come before it’s too late?” as well as this follow-up blog post that included links to many of the studies and reports I used in that Sunday piece.

From today’s event, the most interesting comments came from Sen. Rockefeller, who had this to say to those in the coal industry who keep denying the science of global warming:

A lot of people and some operators I run into fairly frequently say it’s all a hoax. Well, it isn’t. It is of course, real, and we have to do something about it.

The question is do you want to produce coal, or do you want to sit back and be scared of some government program. Coal miners can’t be afraid of the future. They’ve got to look at this and say, ‘That’s the future.’

We’ll have a complete news story on today’s CCS event in your Saturday Gazette-Mail…