Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Kitt Bond (R-MO) called on U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman to support extending the current budget period for the Cooperative Agreement between the Department of Energy (DOE) and the FutureGen Alliance. The agreement is set to expire on June 15. As detailed previously on this site, Bodman announced last spring that DOE would not fund the project. Once completed, the plant would be the world’s first near zero emissions coal fueled electricity plant. DOE had committed to partially fund construction of the plant in partnership with the FutureGen Alliance, a private consortium of leading coal and electricity producers.
The uncertainty of the FutureGen project is disappointing; however, the march towards clean coal technology continues. West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, the first keynote speaker at the spring meeting of the West Virginia Coal Association mentioned clean coal technology numerous times during his address. Gov. Manchin suggested a partnership with China, wherein China would invest in technology being developed in West Virginia for use in Asia. Given China's growing energy needs and its' pollution concerns, such a partnership seems like a no-brainer. Gov. Manchin also told the crowd he has spoken to Senators Obama and Clinton, as well as Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, about investing in clean coal technology.
The interest in clean coal technology extends beyond Appalachia. The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently referred to DOE’s Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships and their large-scale CO2 tests as the world’s most ambitious carbon capture and storage projects. The regional projects have entered Phase Three and are now focused on large-scale tests involving a million tons or more of CO2 injected each year. The IEA’s findings validate carbon capture and storage projects as being pragmatic and attainable. The fact that no other country is pursuing a project as ambitious as DOE’s indicates that the U.S. will be the leader in clean-coal technology.
This article was authored by Chris M. Hunter, Jackson Kelly PLLC. For more information on the author see here.