Coal Tattoo

The press office for Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., was kind enough yesterday to send around an email message alerting we in the media to a recent appearance by Rep. Capito on FoxNews:

On Friday, Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., joined a panel of experts for a one-hour special on three topics where the Obama Administration has let down the American people.  Those three topics are the EPA’s war on coal, defunding of NASA, rejecting the Keystone pipeline. 

In that appearance, Rep. Capito certainly showed no interesting in toning down the overheated rhetoric that pervades discussions of coal issues here in West Virginia, agreeing with television personality Sean Hannity that the Obama administration’s policies aren’t just a “war on coal,” but an “all-out war on coal.” Rep. Capito explained:

It is a war on American’s energy and it’s a war on coal. These are communities that are blessed with a natural resource that want to live and work in a community they love, where their families are from, and they’re having to leave. I mean just in the last month, at least a thousand laid-off coal miners. Those are families.

Rep. Capito was then asked if this was “clean coal” and she replied:

We have the ability. We can do better at that. There’s more technology and research, but not if you don’t fund the tech and research. I had an experimentation in my district on coal sequestration . they had to pull the plug on it because the dollars weren’t there. It’s not economically feasible. We’ve got to move forward on this. I think it’s detrimental to us.

Here’s the video:

OK, so let’s review the facts …

— American Electric Power was planning to continue its carbon capture and storage demonstration project at American Electric Power’s Mountaineer Power Plant at New Haven, in Mason County, W.Va., which is in Rep. Capito’s district.

— The Obama administration approved $334 million in federal stimulus money to help AEP pay the costs of expanding the demonstration to cover more of the facility’s carbon dioxide emissions.

— A year ago, in July 2011, AEP pulled the plug on the project.

But, why did AEP take this action? Here’s what the company’s press release said:

American Electric Power is terminating its cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy and placing its plans to advance carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) technology to commercial scale on hold, citing the current uncertain status of U.S. climate policy and the continued weak economy as contributors to the decision.

Mike Morris, then CEO of AEP, said at the time:

We are clearly in a classic ‘which comes first?’ situation. The commercialization of this technology is vital if owners of coal-fueled generation are to comply with potential future climate regulations without prematurely retiring efficient, cost-effective generating capacity. But as a regulated utility, it is impossible to gain regulatory approval to recover our share of the costs for validating and deploying the technology without federal requirements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions already in place. The uncertainty also makes it difficult to attract partners to help fund the industry’s share.

The message is clear: Without a price on carbon dioxide emissions, without some federal regulations to force the industry’s hand, CCS is going nowhere. So when will Rep. Capito’s office be circulating an email announcing her proposal for federal legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions and encourage CCS?