And here I thought the Joyce Foundation was bad…


So will someone please explain why the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation dove into promoting coal? So will someone please explain why the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation dove into promoting coal GASIFICATION? So will someone please explain why the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation dove into promoting coal gasification with capture and sequestration when it does not exist and as if it will in the near future? Why jump in, in such a BIG way, when it’s apparaent to the world, even the DOE and Wall Street, that there is no such thing as “clean coal” and that it’s “too risky for private investment.” It’s enough to make me puke! Whatever are they thinking? Having read some about the life and interests of Doris Duke, noting the focus of the Foundation’s grants, reasonable and sound areas like wildlife preservation, Islamic art, medical research… she would be spinning in her grave if she knew what they were doing. Somebody quick channel Doris Duke, get her on a conference call!



WHY COAL? WHY WOULD THEY PUT SO MUCH INTO PROMOTING THIS FOSSIL? It seems they haven’t done the most basic research and noted the… ahem… DOWNWARD TRAJECTORY OF COAL GASIFICATION!!! Maybe they like to throw money away. Maybe they have so much they don’t know what to do with it. Maybe they don’t have the creativity or braincells to conceive of a future without coal. Maybe they are beholden to the coal industry (though I don’t see the kind of coal and IGCC investments that Joyce has but we’ll see when the 2007 IRS 990 is posted). Maybe they haven’t noticed that CO2 capture is not happening and that it isn’t likely to anytime soon, per the DOE, and maybe they didn’t read the New York Times today:

Mounting costs slow the push for clean coal (see below)

What are they doing? Check out this admission on their program page:

Low-emission uses of coal, such as gasification combined with carbon capture and storage technology

Will someone please tell them that “gasification combined with carbon capture and storage technology” DOES NOT EXIST! Wherever do they get the notion that it does? Who are they listening to? Who are their experts? Who is providing them with the $$$ to throw away like this on such a flawed, such a cosmically bad idea?

And look at their grants page, look at the piles of money they threw at coal, OH MY DOG, it’s turning my stomach:

2007 Grants – Deploy & Develop Clean-Energy Technologies

Bipartisan Policy Center
$490,000 over 1.5 years
Washington, DC – To support work by the National Commission on Energy Policy to determine a feasible mix of low-carbon technologies for the U.S. and recommend policy changes to facilitate their development and deployment.

Carnegie Mellon University
$1,850,000 over 2.5 years
Pittsburgh, PA – To enable a team of investigators at Carnegie Mellon, University of Minnesota, Vermont Law School and other institutions to work with a wide range of stakeholders and experts to design a regulatory structure for the capture, transport and deep geological sequestration of carbon dioxide in the United States.

Clean Air Task Force
$845,000 over 1.5 years
Boston, MA – To create a strategy for investing in public and private research, development and demonstration of technologies that use coal for power generation without adding appreciably to the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, with a focus on innovative gasification and post-combustion capture pathways. A sub-grant to the Climate Policy Center of Clean Air-Cool Planet will enable that organization to develop specific recommendations for implementing ARPA-E, a recently authorized federal agency aimed at accelerating transformational advances in energy technology.

Energy Foundation
$21 million over 3 years
San Francisco, CA – To support the Energy Foundation’s work in four areas: developing efficient building codes and building technologies in the U.S.; transforming U.S. utility regulation to make efficiency profitable and create vibrant markets for renewable energy; greening China’s building boom; and supporting the Energy Foundation’s core U.S. programs to build strategic flexibility.

Harvard University
$1,460,000 over 3 years
Cambridge, MA – To support work by the Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government to develop policy recommendations for an expanded U.S. federal energy-technology innovation endeavor; evaluate the U.S. federal energy research, development, and demonstration budget on an annual basis; and assess energy technology innovation activities in the private sector of the United States, as well as in the public and private sectors of China, India, Japan and Europe.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
$1,987,000 over 2 years
Cambridge, MA – To support a comprehensive assessment by the MIT Industrial Performance Center of the energy technology innovation system in the United States, including recommendations for improvements to federal and state research, development and demonstration policies, as well as mechanisms for early adoption and large-scale deployment of supply and demand-side innovations.

AAAAAAAAAARGH! Can’t they do the most basic research to see that IGCC is going nowhere? All they have to do is read the record for Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project. Here are the costs, sans the elusive and non-existent carbon capture and sequestration from Dr. Amit’s Rebuttal testimony:

Or look at the emissions analysis by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency:

MPCA – Excelsior Final Emission Comparison

Or read the ALJ Recommendation of Denial:


And if they looked around or even read what Harvard Business School is doing on IGCC, they’d know that Harvard Business School is the author of the scheme to shift risk and cost to state and federal taxpayers and ratepayers rather than the utilities or developers promoting this nonsense — all you have to do is read pages 1-21, it’s really not that complicated and it’s really that disgusting a scheme:

Harvard I – 3 Party Covenant

Here’s the Delaware PSC staff analysis rejecting coal gasification:

Delaware PSC staff – wind/gas combo!

So do some homework, guys, please!

Mounting costs slow the push for clean coal


WASHINGTON — For years, scientists have had a straightforward idea for taming global warming. They want to take the carbon dioxide that spews from coal-burning power plants and pump it back into the ground.

President Bush is for it, and indeed has spent years talking up the virtues of “clean coal.” All three candidates to succeed him favor the approach. So do many other members of Congress. Coal companies are for it. Many environmentalists favor it. Utility executives are practically begging for the technology.

But it has become clear in recent months that the nation’s effort to develop the technique is lagging badly.

In January, the government canceled its support for what was supposed to be a showcase project, a plant at a carefully chosen site in Illinois where there was coal, access to the power grid, and soil underfoot that backers said could hold the carbon dioxide for eons.

Perhaps worse, in the last few months, utility projects in Florida, West Virginia, Ohio, Minnesota and Washington State that would have made it easier to capture carbon dioxide have all been canceled or thrown into regulatory limbo.

Coal is abundant and cheap, assuring that it will continue to be used. But the failure to start building, testing, tweaking and perfecting carbon capture and storage means that developing the technology may come too late to make coal compatible with limiting global warming.

“It’s a total mess,” said Daniel M. Kammen, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.

“Coal’s had a tough year,” said John Lavelle, head of a business at General Electric that makes equipment for processing coal into a form from which carbon can be captured. Many of these projects were derailed by the short-term pressure of rising construction costs. But scientists say the result, unless the situation can be turned around, will be a long-term disaster.

Plans to combat global warming generally assume that continued use of coal for power plants is unavoidable for at least several decades. Therefore, starting as early as 2020, forecasters assume that carbon dioxide emitted by new power plants will have to be captured and stored underground, to cut down on the amount of global-warming gases in the atmosphere.

Yet, simple as the idea may sound, considerable research is still needed to be certain the technique would be safe, effective and affordable.

Scientists need to figure out which kinds of rock and soil formations are best at holding carbon dioxide. They need to be sure the gas will not bubble back to the surface. They need to find optimal designs for new power plants so as to cut costs. And some complex legal questions need to be resolved, such as who would be liable if such a project polluted the groundwater or caused other damage far from the power plant.

Major corporations sense the possibility of a profitable new business, and G.E. signed a partnership on Wednesday with Schlumberger, the oil field services company, to advance the technology of carbon capture and sequestration.

But only a handful of small projects survive, and the recent cancellations mean that most of this work has come to a halt, raising doubts that the technique can be ready any time in the next few decades. And without it, “we’re not going to have much of a chance for stabilizing the climate,” said John Thompson, who oversees work on the issue for the Clean Air Task Force, an environmental group.

The fear is that utilities, lacking proven chemical techniques for capturing carbon dioxide and proven methods for storing it underground by the billions of tons per year, will build the next generation of coal plants using existing technology. That would ensure that vast amounts of global warming gases would be pumped into the atmosphere for decades.

The highest-profile failure involved a project known as FutureGen, which President Bush himself announced in 2003: a utility consortium, with subsidies from the government, was going to build a plant in Mattoon, Ill., testing the most advanced techniques for converting coal to a gas, capturing pollutants, and burning the gas for power.

The carbon dioxide would have been compressed and pumped underground into deep soil layers. Monitoring devices would have tested whether any was escaping to the atmosphere.

About $50 million has been spent on FutureGen, about $40 million in federal money and $10 million in private money, to draw up preliminary designs, find a site that had coal, electric transmission and suitable geology, and complete an Environmental Impact Statement, among other steps.

But in January, the government pulled out after projected costs nearly doubled, to $1.8 billion. The government feared the costs would go even higher. A bipartisan effort is afoot on Capitol Hill to save FutureGen, but the project is on life support.

The government had to change its approach, said Clarence Albright Jr., the undersecretary of the Energy Department, to “limit taxpayer exposure to the escalating cost.”

Trying to recover, the Energy Department is trying to cut a deal with a utility that is already planning a new power plant. The government would offer subsidies to add a segment to the plant dedicated to capturing and injecting carbon dioxide, as long as the utility bore much of the risk of cost overruns.

It is unclear whether any utility will agree to such a deal. The power companies, in fact, have been busy pulling back from coal-burning power plants of all types, amid rising costs and political pressure. Utility executives say they do not know of a plant that would qualify for an Energy Department grant as the project is now structured.

Most worrisome to experts on global warming, the utilities have recently been canceling their commitments to a type of plant long seen as a helpful intermediate step toward cleaner coal.

In plants of this type, coal would be gasified and pollutants like mercury, sulfur and soot removed before burning. The plants would be highly efficient, and would therefore emit less carbon dioxide for a given volume of electricity produced, but they would not inject the carbon dioxide into the ground.

But the situation is not hopeless. One new gasification proposal survives in the United States, by Duke Energy for a plant in Edwardsport, Ind.

In Wisconsin, engineers are testing a method that may allow them to bolt machinery for capturing carbon dioxide onto the back of old-style power plants; Sweden, Australia and Denmark are planning similar tests. And German engineers are exploring another approach, one that involves burning coal in pure oxygen, which would produce a clean stream of exhaust gases that could be injected into the ground.

But no project is very far along, and it remains an open question whether techniques for capturing and storing carbon dioxide will be available by the time they are critically needed.

The Electric Power Research Institute, a utility consortium, estimated that it would take as long as 15 years to go from starting a pilot plant to proving the technology will work. The institute has set a goal of having large-scale tests completed by 2020.

“A year ago, that was an aggressive target,” said Steven R. Specker, the president of the institute. “A year has gone by, and now it’s a very aggressive target.”

Enough… I can’t stand it… time to go out in the back yard and clean up the piles and piles of building supplies, lumber, parts, whatnot, work off some of this angst. As my anti-condo-development in Lake City T-shirt says” HOW DENSE CAN WE BE?

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