(MCT) CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Saying he was trying to chart a future path for West Virginia coal while recognizing the need to limit greenhouse gas emissions, Sen. Jay Rockefeller on Monday introduced two bills designed to make carbon capture and sequestration technologies more economically viable.
With the bills, Rockefeller, D-W.Va., is trying to balance support for the state’s coal industry while also working to protect the environment.
“Today, West Virginia is facing one of its biggest challenges: how do we continue to support one of our bedrock industries, while protecting our clean air and water for future generations?” Rockefeller said in a statement. “The bills I introduced today are designed to create an environment where we can succeed in meeting that challenge. And I know we have the commitment and capacity to succeed.”
The bills — the Carbon Capture and Sequestration Deployment Act and the Expanding Carbon Capture through Enhanced Oil Recovery Act — would invest federal funds toward research and development of carbon capture and sequestration technologies and expand tax credits and create loan guarantees for companies using it.
Carbon capture and sequestration technologies are designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and industrial processes by capturing it and transporting it to facilities where it is injected underground for storage instead of releasing it into the atmosphere.
The goal of the process is to allow coal to be burned and used in a more environmentally friendly fashion. However, the process has not proven to be economically viable.
Rockefeller’s legislation would call for $1 billion to be spent over 15 years to fund a cooperative industry-government research and development program to develop new ways of capturing, using and storing carbon dioxide. Industry partners would be required to match up to 20 percent of the government’s investment, according to the plan.
The bills would also authorize $20 billion in loan guarantees for the construction and retrofitting of commercial-scale power generation facilities that use carbon-capture technologies.
Rockefeller, who in the past has said the coal industry needs to “face reality” about climate change and the industry’s future, said his plan would help balance the nation’s energy and environmental needs.
“The reality for West Virginia and the rest of the country is that we need coal; we can’t meet our energy needs without it,” he said. “It is simply unrealistic to think that we can stop burning coal and shift to cleaner sources of energy instantly. And it is equally unrealistic to think that coal is as clean as it could be, or that it will be around forever. Either way, we have to prepare for the future.
“Innovation is at the very heart of the American ideal,” he said. “We’re a country that dreams big dreams. We put a man on the moon. We cured polio. At every turn, when faced with a challenge, we’ve overcome it.”
Contact writer Jared Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4836.
(c) 2014 the Charleston Daily Mail (Charleston, W.Va.)
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