With Congress hotly debating an economic stimulus package, there’s been a lot of talk lately about government support for various energy sources.
On all sides of this debate, there’s an agreement that there’s no silver bullet — we’re going to need all of our available domestic energy resources to help meet that demand.
That means baseload power sources such as coal, which provides about half of our electricity. And yes it also means renewable energy, which has an important role to play in our energy portfolio when it comes to peaking power.
It is not an either/or situation, and people should remember that we’re not at war with other fuel sources.
Having said that, West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) made a good point when he said more federal research dollars are needed to develop clean coal technologies, since coal is an affordable and abundant fuel source.
Per the Associated Press:
"Coal and nuclear are carrying the load," Manchin said. But he said they account for a disproportionately small share of research funding.
So let’s work together to develop good jobs pursuing clean technologies that will capture and safely store CO2.
Another clean coal initiative is on the horizon, this time in the state of North Dakota.
Last week, outgoing U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Shafer announced a $300 million federal loan for Basin Electric Power Cooperative* in Bismarck to capture carbon dioxide from the company’s existing power plant. The carbon dioxide will be captured at the source in Bismarck and then transferred to Canada where it will be used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR).
The Basin Electric plant is another exciting development in the clean coal technologies that can power us into a clean energy future. Look for updates on this story here on Behind the Plug, and don’t forget to check out the other carbon capture projects in progress—there are more than 80 of them underway in the U.S. right now.
NOTE: Basin Electric Power Cooperative is an ACCCE member.
Last week, the New York Times called the messages of our outreach campaign “cheery.”
That was an Interesting word choice, since we’ve backed up claims of progress with a strong record of achievement and we have spoken realistically about the challenges that lie ahead.
So while I think the New York Times editorial writer is showing a clear lack of understanding about the commitment our coalition is making to the future of coal, I can’t help but wonder how the newspaper would describe the new ads by the thisisreality.org group (or, as I like to call them, the “we don’t need coal folks”)?
Our campaign is clear about our policy goals. We promote policies that:
- ensure access to reliable energy
- promote energy independence
- keep the cost of energy affordable for working families and American businesses
- create new jobs by investing in advanced technologies to further improve the environmental performance of energy production across the board – including technologies to capture and store CO2 from coal-based power plants.
That’s what we’re for.
But what are the folks who are sponsoring the “anti-clean coal technology” spots asking people to see, feel, and do at the end of their messages? What are they for?
Is it really that we won't need fossil fuels in 10 years? (If so, what proof do they give to support that claim?) Also, why are they so optimistic about overcoming the obstacles associated with the increased use of renewables, but so pessimistic about the future of advanced clean coal technologies that will capture and safely store CO2?
Given that coal accounts for about half of the electricity we rely on each day, and every credible forecast shows coal use growing to meet increased energy needs both here at home and around the world, I suspect most people agree (and polling shows that I’m right on this one) see that coal will be a part of our energy future for a long-time to come.