Sen. Rockefeller continues push to block climate action

March 15, 2011 by Ken Ward Jr.

This just in from the office of Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.:

Senator Jay Rockefeller this evening filed an amendment that would suspend Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation of greenhouse gases from stationary sources for two years. The amendment, which mirrors his legislation (S. 231), came up during a separate debate on small business funding. Rockefeller encouraged his colleagues to support his amendment and announced that he will oppose efforts by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to forever block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

“I won’t support a total dismantling of the EPA, and I am disappointed with Republican efforts to bring up this legislation, which has no chance of ever becoming law. This is more of a political ploy, rather than a genuine effort to come up with a solid energy policy,” said Rockefeller. “We must approach this issue with long and short views for our country and our energy policy. My legislation would safeguard jobs, secure a future for the U.S. coal industry, and protect the entire economy as we move toward clean coal technology. Now is the time to encourage companies to invest in new technologies and create jobs, and we need a system that gives major employers the framework to do so and to succeed. Additionally, many of us agree that Congress, not the EPA, must be the decision-maker on such a challenging issue.”

4 Responses to “Sen. Rockefeller continues push to block climate action”

  1. Casey says:

    T Rodd, what’s your thoughts on:
    “Peabody is working on a deal with Huaneng to build an almost zero-emissions plant at the mouth of a new 12 million tons per year mine in Mongolia that will capture carbon dioxide and transform it into solid blocks used for construction. That technique has been developed by California-based Calera. You can better understand the technology here, but in short the idea is to turn the carbon dioxide into calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate, which would be mixed into concrete. This is a fascinating technology that I will come back to with some more reporting in the near future, but it seems clear that if the Mongolia plant is effective it could pave the way for effective carbon capture worldwide.”

    http://blogs.forbes.com/christopherhelman/2011/03/11/peabody-energy-chief-coal-is-the-fastest-growing-fuel-in-the-world/?partner=yahootix

  2. Thomas Rodd says:

    Casey, thanks for the tip — and I will do some research on this particular CCS technology/proposa, and put up a comment within a few days.

    I have a lot of faith (maybe too much) in the ability of technology to solve the CCS problem in any number of ways. (My faith has taken some criticism from coal skeptics here.) However, my educated guess (and I emphasize “guess”) is that all of the ways to do CCS will substantially increase the cost of coal-fired electricity.

    Secretary Chu and Senator Rockefeller have said as much. However, Chu pointed to how much the coal industry overestimated the cost of sulfur scrubbers when they were fighting — yes, fighting — the Clean Air Act. So Chu (a Nobel Laureate) has reasons to be optimistic, and therefore so do I.

    The opposition to cap-and-trade said that it would put electricity bills up. Well, duh! Of course it would — and so will carbon capture and storage. The whole idea of cap-and-trade is to phase in those price increases gradually, to incentivize the rapid development of CCS and other low-emitting energy technologies.

  3. Thomas Rodd says:

    Casey, the Calera company’s home page – check out their many pages, including press stories – is at http://calera.com/.

    There’s a Scientific American Article on the Calera process at http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=cement-from-carbon-dioxide#comments.

    The US DOE awarded Calera a grant (and also other competing processes) at http://www.energy.gov/news/9247.htm

    Thomas Friedman of the NYTimes did an op-ed at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/07/opinion/07friedman.html
    that discussed the Calera and other carbon capture projects. Friedman said:

    “These technologies still have to prove that they are reliable, durable and scalable — and if you Google both, you will find studies saying they are and studies that are skeptical. All I know is this: if we put a simple price on carbon, these new technologies would have a chance to blossom and thousands more would come out of innovators’ garages. America still has the best innovation culture in the world. But we need better policies to nurture it, better infrastructure to enable it and more open doors to bring others here to try it.”

    Friedman is right. It’s going to take putting a price on carbon emissions to get this global revolution going quickly enough to give our kids (and, I would add, the future of the coal industry) a fighting chance. That much is at stake.

  4. Casey says:

    T Rodd,
    I thought that it was strange to see a large scale operation for the process to be implemented in China and not here. But I see that there is a project at Moss Landing which you linked. There would certainly have to be a global approach to have any impact. I’d agree with your thoughts on innovation.

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