It May Not Be Ready but EPA Chief Defends Carbon Capture Technology Anyway
West Virginia MetroNews reports that at a Senate committee hearing, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, was forced to defend the viability of the carbon capture and sequestration technology, the key component of proposed greenhouse gas rules for new electric power plants:
“Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is not commercially viable,” [North Dakota U.S. Senator John] Hoeven said. “So how are we going to build any new coal plants even with the latest technology and CCS with your latest proposed rules?”
McCarthy said told Hoeven the EPA believes CCS is “technically feasible.”
But the Republican senator shot back: “I did not say technically feasible. I said commercially viable.”
McCarthy answered that “technically feasible” is the standard under the law.
However, the Clean Air Act states that technology mandated has to be “adequately demonstrated,” and EPA must consider its costs. These are hard standards for CCS to meet when no commercial power plants are using it, and its first commercial application in Mississippi is undergoing cost overruns. Experts and former administration officials understand that CCS is years away from being viable and will mean added electricity costs. Southern Company, which is building the Kemper power plant, says it “should not be used in developing a national standard for greenhouse gases.”
Back to McCarthy’s testimony. According to a Politico Pro report, at the committee hearing, she said, “We think [CCS] is the future, and we think facilities are investing in it now.”
CCS might be the future, but we live in the here-and-now where EPA regulations are pushing reliable, coal-fired power plants offline and pushed a coal producer into bankruptcy:
James River Coal Co., a mine operator in Logan and Mingo Counties, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as part of its effort to turn around its business.
The Richmond, Va.-based company says it faces challenges from the weak economy, environmental regulations and competition as electrical-generating utilities switch from coal to natural gas.
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EDITORS NOTE: Features photos of EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Photographer: F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg.