Monday, January 28, 2008

Best-Case Carbon Capture Viability Prediction: "Decades"

Within the Chesapeake Climate Action Network's report on an Air Pollution Control Board hearing in Alexandria comes this juicy little nugget:
The presentation from Dominion to the Board included a large section about CCS, carbon capture and sequestration, and how compatible the Wise County plant may be, if the technology one day becomes available at a cost-effective price, with CCS and how that should mean that Virginians should not worry about this plant’s estimated 5.4 million tons of annual CO2 emissions. When asked when we could expect the plant to start to turn CCS compatibility into CCS reality, the Dominion speaker said, “decades.”

When asked where the sequestered carbon would be stored if it could be captured, the Dominion speaker replied, “there is great potential for storage in abandoned mines in Dickenson County, Virginia.” Board member: “Potential, what does that mean?” Dominion: “we are in the process of doing studies with Virginia Tech that should determine the Dickenson county site suitability — we will know for sure in 2018.”

So, what Dominion is basically saying is: “in 10 years we will know whether we can adequately store sequestered carbon in Virginia, and maybe a few decades after that we will figure out whether we can actually sequester carbon…”
Look, we all want affordable carbon capture and storage technology. Some of the best minds at Virginia Tech are working on it right now. But even Dominion admits it's still "decades" away, while affordable solar, wind, and tidal power technology are available right now. While we wait for affordable CCS, the plant would emit 5.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide each year, the primary greenhouse gas causing global warming.

And let's not forget what else won't be captured. The plant would be allowed to release more than 12,500 tons of pollution each year, including nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide, the latter a cause of serious breathing problems for people with respiratory illnesses. The facility would also spew more than 70 pounds of mercury a year into Virginia's air at a time when studies estimate that as many as eight percent of American women of childbearing age may have mercury at levels of concern.

Green-collar jobs are springing up all over the country in states with mandatory renewable portfolio standards, including bordering states like Maryland and North Carolina.
But here in Virginia? We don't care what other states do, or what carbon-limiting legislation Congress will pass within the next year, or whether even China has a 20% RPS. We built this coal-fired Titanic, and we're going down with the ship!

Cross-posted from Raising Kaine
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