Monday AM February 16th, 2009

Coal will continue to be an important resource in power generation, according to speakers at the recent Cambridge Energy Research Associates conference. But technology could help make it environmentally acceptable. Ed Mayberry reports.


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The compromise economic stimulus bill includes funds for further research and development in carbon capture and underground sequestration.  That could mean government grants, in the beginning, according to Fred Krupp with the Environmental Defense Fund.

“Particularly early research and development of some of these technologies, and we should be spending money on geothermal energy and solar.  There’s a place for government R-and-D spending.  But the beauty of the cap-and-trade system is that it gets private capital going into these things in a much bigger way than government capital ever will, because there’ll be a profit motive.  We’re holding out a pot of gold for the people who figure out how to save us.”

Mark Brownstein with the Environmental Defense Fund says the measure of success will be the reduction of emissions.

“Technology deployment is a strategy for meeting an obligation under a cap, but the purpose of the cap isn’t technology deployment — it’s reducing the emissions into the atmosphere.  In the case of the acid rain program, once companies understood that they had an obligation to limit their emissions, but then the freedom to figure out how to do that, they found less expensive ways of meeting their limits.”

The Environmental Defense Fund speakers at the recent annual Cambridge Energy Research Associates conference in Houston say we’ll be burning coal for many years to come, despite its environmental drawbacks.  They’re hoping the country finds a way for coal to continue to be part of the energy mix. 

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.

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