The New "Bridge to Nowhere"

FutureGen to pump $2 billion into a hole in the ground

Feature story - May 21, 2009
Carbon Capture and Sequestration, the fantastical technology that industry lobbyists say will allow us to burn coal with no consequences, is about to get a shot in the arm. The new climate legislation working its way though Congress would allocate tens of billions of taxpayer dollars for CCS — and its flagship project, FutureGen.

Science says that avoiding catastrophic climate change means global GHG emissions must peak by 2015 and fall dramatically thereafter. That leaves about six years to shift our energy system away from ever-increasing emissions to a pathway that will keep temperature increases below critical levels. CCS is unproven, and even the most optimistic estimates don't predict commercial readiness before 2020. A more realistic timeframe is 2030. Unfortunately, this fact isn't stopping friends of the coal industry in Congress, who are throwing massive sums of dollars at it.

Money for CCS means less money for real solutions

The US does not need to build new coal plants to meet its energy needs. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman Jon Wellinghoff said as much last month. In a media interview, he confirmed that there is enough renewable energy to meet demand and that coal is too expensive (subscription required). A clean, sustainable energy future is ours for the taking. All we need to do is reach out and grab it. So far, though, Congress has missed this message and has put a fatally flawed idea front and center in its response to global warming.

Choosing CCS inevitably means clean alternatives such as wave, wind and solar power fall by the wayside. The list below covers some of the key reasons why:

  • CCS keeps the hope of coal as an energy source alive even when we don't need it. For proof, take a look at the UK. The country is facing an energy gap that could readily be met by fulfilling the country's renewable energy and energy efficiency targets. Instead, the government has gone the CCS route and is proposing to support the construction of 4 new coal plants all while its domestic renewable energy industry is