Calling Clean Coal's Bluff

UK Parliament and Royal Society: Set date for carbon capture or face coal plant closure.

In what could be considered "calling the industry’s bluff" on so-called clean coal, a UK Parliament committee described industry claims that coal is clean as a “fig leaf.”

The committee went on to say that no coal plants should be built in the United Kingdom without carbon capture and storage, that a date should be set for implementation of carbon capture and sequestration or coal plants would start being closed, and that coal should be considered as a last resort “even with the promise of carbon capture and storage”.

The committee’s recommendations were hailed by the Royal Society, the leading scientific academy of the United Kingdom, saying that the solution was to permit only coal plants that capture at least 90% of their global warming pollution.

If only the political supporters of carbon capture and storage here in the United States would listen to their own academic experts on the subject. Last year’s definitive report by MIT experts on carbon capture and storage stated that there was no evidence that retrofitting coal plants would ever be economical and there should be no ‘grandfathering’ of coal plants built without significant carbon capture from the first day of operation:

“Congress should remove any expectation that construction of new coal plants without CO2 capture will be "grandfathered" and granted emission allowances in the event of future regulation.” (The Future of Coal, MIT, March 2007)

In other words, an end to permitting of new coal-fired power plants without CCS and no credits for past pollution would be the fastest way to promote deployment of the technology. So why don’t America’s clean coal electricity people get behind a bill that promotes a 100% auction of carbon credits in a cap-and-trade program?

Is it because they’re bluffing?