Posts filed under Guest Posts

Advocating for America’s Power: Week 2

Well, energy enthusiasts, another exciting week has passed here at ACCCE. My first week was a whirlwind with the announcement of EPA’s new carbon regulations, but my second week was even more interesting. The initial flurry of activity caused by the announcement has quieted and the delusional claims of the administration are being thoroughly scrutinized. Last week, I approached the EPA regulations on a small scale and addressed how they would affect my home region of Eastern Kentucky. During week two, however, I wanted to look beyond our own borders and see how these regulations could play out on the global stage.

As we all know, if implemented, EPA’s regulations on America’s existing coal fleet will only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by less than one percent. This is a virtual drop in the global climate change bucket. The Obama administration is acutely aware of this negligible reduction yet claims their plan will lead the world by example.  To examine this claim, I wanted to start with a simple question: is President Obama really leading anyone?

For now, let’s just take a look at our nation’s coal-producing allies, Australia and Canada. Recent statements by the Prime Ministers of Australia and Canada clearly show they have no intention of playing “follow the leader.” Tony Abbott of Australia says he refuses to implement a “job-killing carbon tax” that would “clobber” their economy. Stephen Harper of Canada speaks in a similar vein, stating that there was “no chance” a country would implement policies that would “deliberately harm jobs and growth in their country.” With a yearly cost of $8.8 billion, monumental job loss and virtually no benefit, both Australia and Canada understand what an economically foolish undertaking President Obama’s plan is. In contrast to President Obama’s claims of global leadership on climate change, however, our “leader” is standing alone.  I’ll be on the lookout for other nations weighing-in on this debate and let you know what I learn.

 


Advocating for America’s Power: Week 1

If you are a frequent reader of Behind the Plug, you have never seen my name before and may be wondering who I am. Well fellow energy enthusiasts, I am China Riddle, a native Eastern Kentuckian making her way as an intern in Washington, D.C. I am writing to you from my office at the American Coalition of Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), where I have worked for one week. My status as an intern who is new to ACCCE may cause you to be skeptical about the credibility of this blog or my knowledge of energy. There is no need to fret, however, as I know first-hand of what I speak.

Before venturing to our nation’s capital, I grew up in a small town in the heart of coal country – Virgie, KY to be exact. My father worked as a miner for seventeen years – making me a true representation of the popular ‘coal miner’s daughter’ notion – and eventually became a chief electrician. When I was fourteen, my father’s unique set of skills in welding and electricity allowed him to open his own mining equipment refurbishing business called K&R Rebuild. While his business is doing well, the volatility of the coal industry has caused serious difficulty in the past few years – difficulties that almost closed us down, putting my family’s livelihood in peril.

Due to the administration’s actions concerning coal-fueled power plants, the despair my family experienced is increasingly being shared by the people of my region. When you shut down coal-fueled power plants, coal mines are also shut down, which in turn affects businesses like my father’s. As I take steps toward my dreams of attending graduate school and working in Washington, D.C., my heart is still tethered to my home. How can I allow myself to leave while my family, friends and neighbors are left to face the hardship EPA’s regulations will surely bring? The answer for me is working at ACCCE and advocating for America’s Power. It is here that I am able to chase my dreams, while still using my skills and passion to work on the most important issue that my native region is facing. Through my role at ACCCE, I can make my voice heard and ardently advocate against unrealistic policies that will leave entire coal producing regions throughout the U.S. in economic turmoil.

So, energy enthusiasts, you can expect to hear more from me over the next eight weeks. I will be updating you on my journey as I work with the staff here at ACCCE to advocate for coal, our most abundant, affordable and reliable source of electricity. Together we can contest these poorly made policies to keep electricity rates down and our lights on.

– China Riddle, Communications Intern


CO2-Enhanced Oil Recovery: What it is and why it’s important.

Carbon Capture and Storage, or CCS, is an important technology for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fueled power plants and other industrial sources.  CCS is a three part process wherein, CO2, a greenhouse gas, is captured from a plant’s emissions stream, transported in a pipeline, and stored in the subsurface.  While the technology holds significant promise, it is many years from being commercially available.  As the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its industrial partners undertake efforts to demonstrate the technology, most projects look to CO2 enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR) to store their captured CO2.

Basics of CO2-EOR:

Some oilfields that have gone through conventional oil production are amenable to processes that produce additional oil.  One such process is the injection of CO2 into the depleted oilfield.  Injected CO2 helps produce additional oil by raising the pressures of the formation which holds the oil and by reacting with the oil, making it easier to move.  When the oil and CO2 are produced at the surface, the CO2 is separated from the oil and re-injected into the formation.  Some CO2 remains in the subsurface permanently.  CO2-EOR operations tend to operate like closed-loop system, with CO2 either remaining in the subsurface, or being re-injected instead of being released into the atmosphere.  The EOR industry has several decades of experience conducting CO2-EOR operations with CO2 from naturally occurring sources.

Potential for CO2-EOR:

As part of the DOE’s effort to develop CCS technology, it published the fourth updated of their “United States Carbon Utilization and Storage Atlas” (Atlas).  The Atlas attempts to quantify the amount of CO2 storage resource in various geologies across the U.S. and Western Canada.  DOE estimates that nearly 250 billion tons of CO2 can be stored in depleted oil and gas formations.  This estimate does not account for economic or regulatory barriers that will limit the number of fields amenable to CO2-EOR.  It is worth noting that around two thirds of this potential is in the southwestern United States.

Regulatory Framework of CO2-EOR:

All injections in the US are regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act.  Pursuant to that law, EPA has promulgated regulations for CO2-EOR operations through their Underground Injection Control (UIC) program.  Responsibility for implementing these regulations, commonly referred to as “Class II” regulations, has been delegated to state agencies in most instances.  These regulations cover construction and operation conditions, as well as other aspects of CO2-EOR operations.  Additional regulation of CO2-EOR operations is part of EPA’s broader effort to quantify CO2 emissions across the economy, the Mandatory Reporting Rule.  For each sector of the economy, EPA has developed a different subpart.  For CO2-EOR, EPA has promulgated the tiered approach of subparts RR and UU.  For conventional CO2-EOR operations, the less rigorous subpart UU applies.  Subpart RR requires more robust monitoring for those operators that are required to provide additional monitoring data because they seek to permanently store CO2.

Importance of EOR in Demonstrating CCS:

CO2-EOR is playing an important role in the demonstration of CCS technology at coal-fueled power plants.  DOE is supporting five CCS demonstration projects at coal-fueled power plants.  Of those five projects, four plan to integrate CO2-EOR as the storage component of the project, including the only project that is under construction.  The reason is simple, project developers can be paid by EOR operators for the CO2 that they generate.  This economic benefit is important to the technology development because it can begin to reduce the overall cost of implementing a CCS project.  The revenue from CO2-EOR, however, is not enough to account for the approximately $1 billion cost of installing CCS on a single 600 MW coal-fueled power plant.  In combination with grants and tax incentives, CO2-EOR plays an significant role in demonstrating this important technology.

 

Visit www.AmericasPower.org to learn more about clean coal technology and how coal is fueling the future of American energy.


Guest Post: Rock of Ages

ACCCE welcomes Milton Catelin, Chief Executive of the World Coal Association, to Behind the Plug. – Bianca Prade

As the latest round of UN talks on climate change concluded in Mexico in December and attention now turns to the next talks in Durban at the end of 2011, it is important to understand the role of coal in our lives as an engine for economic and social development and the lynchpin of energy security.

For its part, the coal industry is reducing emissions at its own operations, investing in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies and encouraging and assisting governments to do likewise.

Just as local coal operations responded to concerns expressed in the communities in which they operated about sulphur oxide (SOx) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) and ambient pollution, the global industry is responding to concerns expressed by the worldwide community about CO2 emissions, mine safety and other challenges.

But it is important to remember there is more to coal than the negatives associated with traditional combustion or mining methods. Coal has been the driver of economic and social development in the West and is raising living standards in many developing countries now.

Study after study has demonstrated that access to affordable, reliable energy – particularly electricity – equates to longer lives and a higher quality of life. And coal is the cornerstone of global electricity, providing more than 40 per cent of the world’s power today and for the foreseeable future.

Coal is also a vital element for 70 per cent of the world’s steel and aluminium, making possible the benefits to the numerous industries and economies – aerospace, shipbuilding, infrastructure and construction, packaging – that rely on those materials.

The energy and environmental demands of the 21st Century mean that the world needs more of all energy forms. It will need more nuclear, more renewables, higher levels of energy efficiency. But the world’s energy and environmental aspirations cannot be achieved without coal.

The International Energy Agency has demonstrated that it is not possible to restrict global temperature rises this century to 2 degrees Centigrade without coal and the widespread deployment of CCS. In fact, to try to do so without coal and CCS would make the global mitigation effort 78 per cent more expensive than it need be by 2050.

No wonder, then, that the head of the IEA, Nobuo Tanaka, has said that: “The deployment of CCS should be a litmus test for the seriousness of negotiators dealing with climate change.”

Coal is the rock of ages – the bedrock of the modern world and the engine of tomorrow’s growth and human prosperity.