Archive for January, 2010

Western Michigan University Receives Funds for Carbon Sequestration

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When it comes to carbon sequestration, scientists and researchers know that studying geology and permeability is the key to safely storing carbon dioxide (CO2) in the ground.

That’s why the folks at the Michigan Geological Repository for Research and Education at Western Michigan University (WMU) take rocks so seriously.

In fact, WMU researchers have been archiving rock core samples for nearly 30 years in a huge, 27,000-foot warehouse. They use the samples to help energy companies find sites with geological formations that can securely trap CO2—preventing the gas from leaking back into the atmosphere.

Their hard work and dedication has paid off. In late 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded WMU with more than $600,000 toward carbon sequestration efforts.

Congressman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who this week attended a university press conference about the funding, praised WMU’s research for keeping the coal industry moving and providing consumers with affordable energy, the Western Herald reported.

It’s great to see that WMU’s efforts aren’t going unnoticed. We commend the University on its well-deserved support from the state and federal government, and we’ll be keeping up with its progress.

Now it’s your turn – show Western Michigan University your support and become a fan on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.


ACC project educates about the importance of coal

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We admit it: coal-based power generation and clean coal technologies can be dense subjects of study.

But as we’ve seen through our profiles of universities studying clean coal technologies and our participation at the 2009 Research Experience in Carbon Sequestration (RECS), there are many bright minds interested in solving our climate and energy problems with technology.

To help up-and-coming professionals in the coal industry, the American Coal Council’s Tomorrow’s Leadership Council created an online program to educate new hires, policymakers, students and the media on how coal is produced, transported and consumed. It’s what ACC Communications Director Jason Hayes calls “coal 101.”

The program, called Coal Fundamentals, is an eight-part document that provides comprehensive summaries of a variety of topics, including the geology and history of coal use, environmental regulation and electricity generation.

Although the ongoing program hasn’t been finished yet (Hayes says it should be done by the end of January), components of it are available to read online. ACC members can access Coal Fundamentals free of charge—so be sure to see whether your company is a member. If not, consider signing up online.

Read more about the Coal Fundamentals Project in the American Coal Council’s latest issue of American Coal Magazine (p. 33). If you have any questions about the program, you can contact Hayes at jhayes@americancoalcouncil.org.


What they’re saying about American coal

From jobs, to curbing emissions, to satisfying our growing demand for energy, elected officials and industry leaders are looking to coal and clean coal technologies to jumpstart the economy and maintain affordable energy prices for Americans. Here’s a sampling of what they’ve been saying lately:

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, the Lexington Herald-Leader (1/12): On federal funding for a new University of Kentucky energy lab: “The renewable resources that we're working on and the coal that we have will both play a big part in Kentucky's future and this country's future."

State Senate Minority Whip Clark Barnes, (R-Randolph), the Charleston Gazette (1/12): On West Virginia clean coal technologies: "That's good for our coal industry and exports right now…We're exporting a tremendous amount of coal right now."

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D), the Charleston Gazette (1/14): “Despite the fact that half of our nation’s electricity is generated by coal, and that our national economy depends on this abundant, reliable and affordable energy, some want to villainize this resource that helped us win two world wars and built the greatest country in the world.”

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D), the Charleston Gazette (1/14): “We are reaching new and better ways to use our coal. There is a balance to be had between our economy and our environment and West Virginia is leading the way in finding that balance.”

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, MTWO-TV (1/15): On support for FutureGen: “We also understand that FutureGen, a project on the drawing boards and hopefully close to fruition, located in Mattoon, Ill., where we have clean coal and we do it in the right way. This is an opportunity for our state.”


Illinois governor hopeful for FutureGen

In his State of the State address, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn voiced high hopes for FutureGen—the near-zero emissions power plant planned for Mattoon, Ill.,—saying, “We also understand that FutureGen, a project on the drawing boards, located in Mattoon where we have clean coal and we do it in the right way.”

Obviously, the FutureGen project is important for the cutting-edge technology it will help develop on a large-scale, and it would bring much-needed jobs to Central Illinois. But have you ever wondered how the people of Mattoon feel about the development of this project in their backyards?

Last year as part of the Factuality Tour, I had the chance to take a tour of Mattoon and get a better understanding of just how vital projects like this are for local economies and for a cleaner environment. Take a look and see for yourself.


Haiti: How you can help

I just wanted to pass along the following link if you are looking for ways to donate to the international fund of the Red Cross for the victims and families that have been devastated by this week’s earthquake in Haiti. Visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/haitiearthquake


West Virginia governor touts the importance of coal

During West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin’s State of the State address, West Virginia Public Broadcasting reported that “Manchin got the biggest applause of the evening when he spoke about coal. ‘Despite the fact that half of our nation’s electricity is generated by coal, and that our national economy depends on this abundant, reliable and affordable energy, some want to villainize this resource that helped us win two world wars and built the greatest country in the world,’ he said."

I point this out because I had a chance to talk to Gov. Manchin a few months ago, and he had many of the same things to say about the use of coal to produce electricity then as he mentioned in his yearly address to the state. Give it a look.


Team at Purdue University sets sights on clean coal technology

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At Purdue University, one of the top ten engineering schools in the country, developing clean coal technology is a high priority.

In fact, clean coal is a major initiative at Purdue’s Energy Center at Discovery Park, a “multidisciplinary academic community made up of more than 185 researchers, scientists, engineers, political scientists and economists” who are working toward making significant contributions to global energy solutions.

The university also partners with the Indiana Center for Coal Technology Research, a state-funded program, to bring Indiana coal – which provides the state with 94 percent of its electricity – together with the latest in clean energy technology.

Nearly two dozen university researchers from various engineering backgrounds have joined the program to study, promote and test various clean coal technologies, including oxy-fuel combustion and integrated gasification combined cycle.

You can access the Center’s most recent studies, reports and staff presentations on their research page. (I recommend reading their latest report, “Estimating the State and Regional Benefits of the Mining and Use of Illinois Basin Coals.”)

And while Center Director Jay Gore hypothesizes that the world will eventually transition from fossil fuels to renewable and nuclear energy, he recognizes that coal will play a vital role in our energy portfolio for many years to come.
“Over the next few decades, we must efficiently use the world’s available petroleum and natural gas resources and invent clean coal technologies for use over the next few centuries,” he said.

We’re glad Purdue understands that breakthrough technologies are a key part of keeping coal in our nation’s energy portfolio. Show your support and fan them on Facebook.


Revisiting the definition of “green” jobs

Earlier this week, Christian Science Monitor reported that, “President Obama announced $2.3 billion in federal tax credits on Friday, which he said would create 17,000 new ‘green’ jobs. Which is great, except that no one can count green jobs because, fundamentally, no one knows what a green job is.” (Emphasis mine.)

At least once I week, I am asked if ACCCE considers a clean coal job a “green” job. The short answer is simple: Absolutely!

If we use the definition of green job provided earlier this year by Pew Charitable Trusts, a green job is one that “generates jobs, businesses and investments while expanding clean energy production, increasing energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, waste and pollution, and conserving water and other natural resources,” then clean coal jobs meet the criteria.

What do you think? Do you have a different definition of what should and should not be considered a green job?