Carbon capture and sequestration is at the center of the debate, primed by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and President Obama’s budget blueprint, on how to reduce U.S. CO2 emissions. CCS technologies are essential to allow the continued use of coal to generate electricity while we substantially reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to combat global warming. While the technologies are complex, the overall value of introducing them into the U.S. and global economies is undeniable.
Ensuring the timely and widespread deployment of CCS technology requires a new policy framework encompassing the following:
- Requiring all new coal power plants to meet an “emission performance” standard that limits CO2 emissions to levels achievable with CCS systems
- Establishing a greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program
- Providing subsidies to plant developers that offset the cost differential between conventional plants and those with CCS
- Targeting regulatory and R&D efforts to implement CCS technology as effectively as possible
Widespread CCS deployment—in combination with other policies to reduce CO2 emissions and diversify energy sources—could be invaluable in meeting our emission reduction goals for greenhouse gases and would encourage the export of CCS technology around the world, particularly to developing nations such as China and India, many of which are depending on low-cost coal to fuel economic growth. To take the reins on this emerging technology, we must start now with an aggressive program of proper legislation, demonstration projects, and funding backed by political will.
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