There’s something big tomorrow… maybe the United States Climate Action Partnership has pushed TXU to fill Texas with IGCC plants? Oh yes, that would be a really good idea. But we’ll have to wait until tomorrow. Until then:

From the Joint Statement of the United States Climate Action Partnership:

Toward this end, USCAP urges lawmakers to enact a policy framework for mandatory reductions of GHG emissions from major emitting sectors, including large stationary sources, transportation, and energy use in commercial and residential buildings. The cornerstone of this approach would be a cap-and- trade program. The environmental goal is to reduce global atmospheric GHG concentrations to a level that minimizes large-scale adverse impacts to humans and the natural environment. The group recommends Congress provide leadership and establish short- and mid-term emission reduction targets; a national program to accelerate technology research, development and deployment; and approaches to encourage action by other countries, including those in the developing world, as ultimately the solution must be global.

USCAP expects to issue its full report on Monday. In the interim, there have been articles containing incorrect and incomplete information in describing the group’s position on the construction of conventional coal- burning plants. We believe this should be corrected now. The USCAP principles encourage policies to speed the transition to low- and zero emission stationary sources and strongly discourage further construction of stationary sources that cannot easily capture CO2 emissions. This is one of an integrated set of principles and recommendations the group has proposed, and should not be considered in isolation.

USCAP consists of market leaders Alcoa, BP America, Caterpillar, Duke Energy, DuPont, FPL Group, General Electric, Lehman Brothers, PG&E, and PNM Resources, along with four leading non-governmental organizations — Environmental Defense, Natural Resources Defense Council, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, and World Resources Institute.

Who benefits from a cap & TRADE scheme? Those trading — it doesn’t do anything at all to plow $$$$ back into conservation and efficiency and renewables, it just lets those who can afford it continue to pollute and enrich those in the market. How is that helpful? Who benefits?


Who’s orchestrated CCX?

Why, the Joyce Foundation – here’s CCX blurb on that.
And another blurb HERE

Joyce’s top “environmental” program priority is:

Energy from Clean Coal. Because fossil fuel emissions create pollution and foster climate changes that threaten the Great Lakes, the Foundation has a long-standing interest in the energy infrastructure of the region. Investment and policy or regulatory decisions about proposed new coal-burning power plants will shape not only our electricity system for the future, but the future of the Lakes as well. We are committed to promoting policies that encourage (through incentives and regulatory structures) the development of clean coal technologies and to ensuring that state agencies approve only those projects that meet state-of-the-art standards for minimizing air pollution and have significant promise for reducing or capturing carbon emissions. The Foundation supports efforts to engage state officials and power plant developers to build the cleanest possible plants to meet the regionâ??s electricity needs.

And who has Joyce funded to promote coal gasification (IGCC)?

$3 million in Joyce Grants to boost clean coal
Once more with feeling… how much did they get?

Natural Resources Defense Council: $437,500

And it’s $7 million over three years! Here’s that announcement

Here’s what Environmental Defense has been doing to make IGCC a household word:

EPA Settlement re: IGCC – Coal Gasification

Whatever are they thinking? What do they know about IGCC? It’s apparent what they don’t know, i.e., cost, water contamination, and that the emissions profile is not something to write home about. But here’s their handout, where they claim that “COAL GASIFICATION IS CLEANER.” Uh-huh, right…

Anyway, apparently USCAP is getting dissed about something. I’d guess, from the parts I’ve highlighted above, that this is another toady “organization” supporting IGCC, coal gasification! If that’s the case, they should be dissed!


Here’s Natural Resources Defense Council on IGCC:

NRDC Power Point IGCC

Suffiice it to say, Environmental Defense and NRDC are overdue to get a packet of stuff about coal gasification from this neck of the woods!

And in our neck of the woods, the Joyce Foundation has funded Clean Wisconsin ($750,000 to Joyce’s Steve Brick’s alma mater) (check this: Clean Coal Study Group); $437,500 to Great Plains Institute’s Coal Gasification Work Group; another $437,500 to NDRC (here they wax on about the Beulah plant, what about the water contamination problems?); and the Clean Air Task Force (CATF IGCC support cited by Micheletti and crew, if THEY like it why don’t you??); Ohio Environmental Council (how’s this for shameless promotion of IGCC with nominal knowledge! Or their “Roadmap” p. 17-23), AAAAAAAGH, I can’t take anymore of this… oh, but btw, note that they gave Rockefeller Family Fund $50,000 for the “ONGOING COAL ADVOCACY ACTIVITIES” OF RE-AMP, oh, they’ve got a “Roadmap” too), oh, so does Great Plains, why, it’s all connected! Here’s the Great Plains Roadmap.


January 19, 2007

A Coalition for Firm Limit on Emissions


WASHINGTON, Jan. 18 â?? Ten major companies with operations across the economy â?? utilities, manufacturing, petroleum, chemicals and financial services â?? have banded together with leading environmental groups to call for a firm nationwide limit on carbon dioxide emissions that would lead to reductions of 10 to 30 percent over the next 15 years.

Introduction of this group, which includes industry giants like General Electric, DuPont and Alcoa, is aimed at adding to the recent impetus for Congressional action on emissions controls and the creation of a market in which allowances to emit carbon dioxide could be traded in a way that achieves the greatest reduction at the lowest cost.

The diversity of the coalition â?? some members had already come out for other forms of emissions control, like a carbon tax or voluntary controls, but others had been silent on climate-change issues until now â?? could send a strong signal that businesses want to get ahead of the increasing political momentum for federal emissions controls, in part to ensure that their long-term interests are protected.

Many energy producers and manufacturers have expressed concern that various state efforts, if not coordinated, could lead to a scattershot system of regulation. Others worry that harsher measures, like a stiff tax on fossil fuels, the biggest contributor to global-warming gases, could be imposed if they do not reach a consensus on a legislative approach.

The groupâ??s formal announcement is scheduled for Monday, the day before President Bush is to deliver his State of the Union address and offer the administrationâ??s newest basket of proposals to promote energy security and combat global warming.

Aside from General Electric and Alcoa, Caterpillar is the leading manufacturing company among the group, which also includes four utilities â?? Duke Energy, based in North Carolina; PG&E of California; the FPL Group of Florida; and PNM Resources of New Mexico. The group counts the multinational oil company BP and Lehman Brothers as members as well.

Jonathan Lash, the president of the World Resources Institute, said Thursday that â??this signals that the differences in the interests between these sectors and within these sectors can be resolved.â?

Peter A. Darbee, chief executive of PG&E, said, â??My hope and expectation is that Congress, the White House and the public will look at these chief executivesâ? and note that companies with a motive to oppose emissions controls are nonetheless saying, â??Hereâ??s a serious problem; it needs to be dealt with, and it needs to be dealt with now.â?

The negotiations, conducted primarily by the chief executives of the companies, did not produce a model piece of legislation, but rather a detailed set of principles that they suggest as a guide to any legislation. In the Senate, there are already four Democratic proposals for limiting carbon emissions and creating a market-based system, under which the government gives or sells permits to businesses, allowing them a certain level of emissions.

Once established, such a system would allow better-performing companies to sell or trade unneeded credits, and all companies involved would be able to determine whether it would be more efficient for them to clean up their own emissions or buy credits from others.

The groupâ??s principles include recommending a range of emissions levels â?? from 100 to 105 percent of current levels within five years, then down to 90 to 100 percent of current levels in 10 years, and 70 to 90 percent of current levels in 15 years. In addition, the chief executives agreed after some discussion, to â??strongly discourage further construction of stationary sources that cannot easily captureâ? carbon dioxide.

This comes close to a rejection of almost all new coal-fired power plants on the drawing boards, including the 11 plants recently proposed by TXU, a Texas utility. The technology that would isolate carbon dioxide emissions and bury them is still in the earliest phases of development, so this near-repudiation of existing coal technology would have a disproportionate impact on utilities that depend largely on coal, like TXU and the Southern Company.

But Jeff Sterba, the chief executive of PNM Resources, whose company gets about two-thirds of its power from coal and is a member of the coalition, explained why he supports such an approach. â??The most important thing for us is to have a viable, diverse portfolio of resources, and coal has got to be part of that mix,â? he said. â??Today, the biggest problem coal has is uncertainty about carbon.â?

The group, called the United States Climate Action Partnership, had its origin in conversations last spring among Mr. Lash; Fred Krupp, the president of Environmental Defense; and Jeffrey R. Immelt, the chief executive of General Electric. Mr. Lash had worked with Mr. Immelt on the rollout of GEâ??s Ecomagination program in 2005 â?? which combined pledges of emissions reductions with a new emphasis on energy-efficient and climate-friendly technologies.

Mr. Sterba and the leaders of the other environmental groups, which also includes Frances Beinecke of the Natural Resources Defense Council and Eileen Claussen of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, said that an efficient, flexible cap-and-trade system would stimulate the development of new technologies to cut energy use and provide renewable energy.

General Electric claims significant advances in these areas already. According to Peter Oâ??Toole, a company spokesman, â??Revenues from the sale of energy-efficient and environmentally advanced products and services hit $10 billion in 2005,â? up from $6.2 billion in 2004.

The chief executives in the group met for the first time in July. During the meeting, Mr. Krupp said, â??it became clear that cap-and-trade is an element of the deal that is good for everybody.â?

â??Itâ??s good for the environmental community,â? he said, â??because a hard cap guarantees the integrity of the environmentâ? and â??industry likes it because itâ??s so efficient.â?

Timing also played a role in the executivesâ?? thinking. As Mr. Darbee said, â??We have the opportunity to construct something more pragmatic and realistic while President Bush is in office.â? A future political climate, after 2008, he said, might produce â??solutions less sensitive to the needs of business.â?

4 Responses to “KumBahYahoos rally around CO2… or is it IGCC?”

  1. David Hawkins Says:

    Hello Carol,

    We here at NRDC certainly welcome getting any information you can share on the costs of IGCC with and without CO2 capture. (The presentation you mention is from two years ago using one estimate that was current at the time.)

    If you or others visit NRDC’s web site you will see we do not view our mission as promoting IGCC or any other coal-based technology. We agree that the way coal is mined and used today makes the “clean coal” claim simply a fraud. And we believe that coal will never have as low an environmental impact as other energy resources. That is why we promote energy efficiency first and renewable energy after that.

    As for coal, our view is that if new coal plants are built, they should source their coal from mines that avoid destructive practices like mountain top removal and should minimize pollution with state of the art systems, including systems that capture CO2 for permanent disposal in geologic formations.

    While we believe that CO2 capture and geologic disposal is technically feasible, we do not argue that it is preferable to efficiency and renewables. In our view it is only preferable to coal that puts all its CO2 in the air.

    NRDC is fighting coal plants in a number of states but given the number of coal projects proposed here and abroad, we don’t believe it is a safe strategy to put all our eggs into the one basket of trying to block each and every coal plant. Despite the efforts by you, us, and others, a sizable number of coal plants are likely to get built. As a community, we need a strategy to deal with that fact and that is what we are trying to do with our work on CO2 capture and storage.

  2. Carol A. Overland Says:

    David –

    Problem — even if you do not view your mission as promotion of IGCC, your organization, and many others, took money to do just that.

    Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.
    New York, NY $437,500
    For its efforts to oppose the construction of new conventional coal plants and promote alternative plants using coal gasification with carbon sequestration. (21 mos.)

    Coal gasification with carbon sequestration is a logical impossibility and is against evidence — the DOE says it’s not happening anytime soon (the PA Addendum to the EIS). It sure isn’t happening soon enough to be part of a great reduction of CO2 in time to save the planet. If you don’t have the Mesaba testimony you can get it at The Dept. of Commerce has a thorough analysis of the numbers but it’s very conservative, and reality is worse than the costs presented. The emissions profile is in the MPCA Comments and testimony.

    Sally M. Benson of Lawernce Livermore has done some studies you need to incorporate, I found her through her House testimony, that CO2 sequestration is expected to cost $3-10/ton, and that amount is the least cost of CSS so they’re not even worrying about that!!!

    CSS has three stages: Capture, Transport and Sequestration

    Capture alone cuts efficiency of plant by 25% (low number) so that 600MW plant has 450 output. Capital costs approaching a billion are added on to that. O&M increases by $2 million plus annually.
    Transport costs Capital costs are $60,000/inch diameter/mile, PLUS repressurization stations (2,000-2,700psi), plus land acquisition. Efficiency loss, figure at least another 5-10%.
    Sequestration: Capital costs are land acquisition, wells, pumping equipment. Annual costs per Sally M. Benson $3-10/ton, Mesaba is 5.4 million tons annually, $16.2-54 million.

    Read the gas industry tome: Gas MIgration

    What work are you doing on CO2 sequestration? You’ve been on this longer than I and should have this information. I expect that if you are working on it, you’d be on the lookout for cost and scientific information about CO2 sequestration and would be closely following the first IGCC plant in the pipeline since Wabash River. I would also expect you’d have the Wabash River information incorporated into your view — Wabash was an unmitigated financial and engineering disaster! If you’re saying “IGCC is good, or OK, with CO2 capture and sequestration,” that’s the fraud, because it isn’t true, it’s a logical impossibility. It’s a mantra that only serves to delay investment and focus on renewable options, and of course promote continuation of coal based electricity generation.

    Promotion of “IGCC with capture and sequestration” is like the “technology will save us” with nuclear’s little waste problem. IGCC with capture and sequestration is against evidence.


  3. David Hawkins Says:

    Dear Carol,

    Sorry to be slow in replying, things are busy.

    You have a misimpression of what NRDC’s aims and work are in the coal area. As I said in my earlier message, NRDC first and foremost promotes energy efficiency, followed by renewable energy. We have many more people working exclusively on those resources than we do on coal.

    Why do we work on coal? Well, first to help in the fight against conventional coal plants. Second, we believe that some coal plants will get built despite efforts to advocate efficiency and renewables as superior alternatives. To say that if a coal plant is built it should capture its CO2 is simply not the same as advocating such plants as an alternative to efficiency and renewables.

    The Joyce grant you mention is to fight conventional coal plants and to promote plants with CO2 capture as an alternative to conventional coal, not as an alternative to efficiency and renewables. We do not say that every coal project is fine if it captures its CO2. There are a number of coal plant fights where we oppose a coal plant period.

    We do believe that coal will continue to be used for some decades both here and in countries like China, where one coal plant a week is being built. To fight these conventional coal plants with only two weapons, efficiency and renewables, would be admirable if we could realistically expect we could block every conventional coal plant with only these two arguments. But that is not the case unfortunately.

    We do not want to limit ourselves to only those two arguments because in the real world they are too often not enough to win. I am not talking about the merits of the arguments but about our community’s ability to get those merits accepted.

    You point out that coal plants that capture CO2 will cost more than coal plants that do not. Of course that is true but it is not a reason by itself for us not to demand CO2 capture from coal plants that are built. The damages caused by emissions of CO2 are more than enough to justify these added costs.

    For a given project a coal plant with CO2 capture may cost more than resources we prefer, like efficiency and renewables. In such cases it is a no-brainer to advocate for the cleaner and cheaper alternative. There are other projects where a conventional coal plant may be claimed to be less expensive than cleaner alternatives like efficiency and renewables if the coal plant’s CO2 emissions are ignored. The aim of NRDC’s advocacy is to prevent that from being a permissible comparison.

    When policies are adopted to require all energy options to be measured on a level playing field with regard to their global warming pollution. Those policies may include cap and trade programs, performance standards, or a combination of these measures. But getting those policies adopted is a political challenge and requires a political strategy that can succeed and succeed fast.

    Reasonable people can disagree about the political strategy that is most likely to succeed. But our debate should center on those issues and not on assertions that a group is pursuing a strategy because it gets a particular foundation grant.

    Turning to the readiness of geologic disposal, when I first began to study geologic disposal of CO2 ten years ago, I felt as you apparently feel now–that the system is too expensive and too unproven to use. But a decade of reading reports and discussions with geologists has led me to a conclusion that this technology is viable (not preferable to efficiency and renewables but viable).

    You cite claims made in DOE’s recent supplemental EIS for the Gilberton plant. Surely you are not arguing that simply because DOE makes an unsupported claim in an EIS our community should accept it at face value. If one reads that EIS one will see that there is no support for the claim. The IPCC Special Report on CO2 Capture and Storage concludes that we know enough today to conclude that large-scale (millions of tons of CO2 per hyear) geologic storage can be carried out safely and effectively. I am very familiar with Sally Benson’s work as I served as a review editor on the chapter of the IPCC report that she was responsible for.

    In short, NRDC supports efficiency first and renewables second as the energy resources our country should deploy. When we engage in specific coal generation projects we advocate for consideration of efficiency and renewables first. But we also raise other arguments that may be helpful under current rules and regulations in blocking a convention coal plant.

    In the broader policy arena, we are arguing that CO2 capture and geologic disposal should be deployed on new coal plants and that existing coal plants should be phased out and replaced by efficiency, renewables and, as a third choice, fossil plants that capture and dispose of CO2.

    This position has been criticized as allowing coal use to continue. Would that we had a political consensus to rule out new coal plants and rapidly reduce our reliance on coal as an energy resource. But that is not reality. Imagine if we had dismissed scrubbers, SCR, and mercury controls for coal plants as an unacceptable compromise because use of those techniques simply allows coal use to continue.

    NRDC and I support the efforts you and other advocates are making to fight coal plants, especially coal plants where there has been no adequate attention paid to alternatives and where there is no reasonable prospect of the plant’s CO2 being captured. I think if you look closely at what we are saying and doing in our own advocacy you will see that it is not in conflict with your objectives.


  4. Carol A. Overland Says:

    What continues to bother me, my big issue here, is that you’re advocating something that doesn’t exist. That advocacy hurts those faced with a very real nightmare of a proposed IGCC plant — these plants are nothing like the plant of your dreams. Straight IGCC has a piss-poor environmental profile, contaminates the water, and costs two-three times more, not 20%, and is being proposed on the backs of landowners, local residents, ratepayers and those who pay taxes to local, state and federal government. The DOE clearly acknowledges that IGCC is “too risky for private investment.” Mesaba is the first IGCC plant coming down the pike, and we’ve uncovered a lot in this docket.

    Identify one U.S. IGCC electrical generation plant that captures, transports and stores 85% or more of its CO2.
    Identify one U.S. IGCC electrical generation plant that doesn’t contaminate the water around it.
    Identify one U.S. IGCC electrical generation plant that is commercially viable without subsidies.

    Describe in detail the example of the IGCC electrical generation plant that you’re advocating for and tell me where it is so I can check out its performance. But of course there isn’t one operating today.

    So what exactly are you promoting? On what factual basis? Let’s see the model. Arguing that “IGCC must be considered as an alternative” is meaningless blather of nonsensical words, and harmful when you don’t have a viable IGCC model to insert into the mix, much less a working IGCC model with capture, transport and storage.

    You’re advocating for something that doesn’t exist. And you’re advocating for something as if Wabash River doesn’t have the track record it has, the Beulah synfuels plant too, that Iowa isn’t full of hazardous gasification sites, as if the facts of the Mesaba proposal aren’t available, and as if AEP hasn’t gone back to the drawing board to address the cost problems. You’re not incorporating the lessons learned, and are instead ignoring them. You’re not acknowledging the problems and trying to build a demonstration plant that really works (the only supportable advocacy option I can see). Instead you’re blanketly promoting this fantasy IGCC when in reality it doesn’t do what you seem to think it does, it does nasty things that you don’t acknowledge, and you don’t have a handle on costs — and if you are aware of the false premises of your advocacy, that’s even worse.

    Also, look again. I’m not saying coal plants that capture cost more than coal plants that do not. I’m saying IGCC, straight IGCC with NO capture, transport or storage, costs more than coal, a LOT more than 20%, and there’s not enough environmental benefit to justify it. IGCC with capture, just capture, costs at least half again as much, and capture alone is worthless if you’re spewing CO2 at the plant gate. The industry has capture figured out sort of but isn’t doing it and industry models select “trade” over capture (only capture) every time (and who benefits from trade, how are emissions decreased?). IGCC with 85+% capture, transport and permanent storage is off the cost charts and not seriously contemplated, much less on the drawing board.

    So when you advocate for IGCC, what exactly are you advocating for? Give me the details please!!!

    If you want to advocate for a demonstration project, then please do THAT, and stop pretending that “IGCC with capture, transport and storage” exists, ready to rock, as an “alternative.”

    Now that we have a better handle on costs and other facts of IGCC, and I know that those hidden with confidentiality agreements are even worse, I’ll be getting this info out to the world and keeping a close eye on all representations of IGCC as an “alternative.”

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