Friday, February 27, 2015

McCarthy Defends Viability of Carbon Capture Technologies Before House Energy Panels

Boundary Dam - The Project The World is Watching (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
Carbon capture and sequestration technologies are available and will provide a path forward for the construction of new coal-fired power plants in the U.S., Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said Feb. 25.

McCarthy told a joint hearing of two House Energy and Commerce subcommittees that the EPA has never considered withdrawing its new source performance standards for future power plants, but she also said no final decision has been made about whether to effectively require carbon capture and sequestration technology, as was done in the proposed rule.

McCarthy's defense of carbon capture and sequestration technologies comes amid a series of high-profile setbacks for projects used by the EPA to justify the technology's availability and feasibility.  McCarthy, though, said the agency didn't rely on those projects alone to justify its conclusion that CCS technologies are adequately demonstrated and economically feasible.

“We feel very confident that this technology is available,” McCarthy said.  “We feel very confident that the use of CCS technology—at the levels we’re proposing—will leave a viable option for coal to continue to be a part of the future.”

In its proposed new source performance standards for carbon dioxide emissions from new fossil fuel-fired power plants (RIN 2060-AQ91), the EPA cited a number of CCS projects as the basis for the feasibility and availability of the technology.  But one of those projects—Southern Co.'s Kemper County Energy Facility in Mississippi—is billions of dollars over-budget and another—the FutureGen 2.0 project in Illinois—lost federal funding in early February after it became clear it would not meet several statutory deadlines. 

In Canada, SaskPower International Inc. installed carbon capture equipment on the Boundary Dam plant, establishing the first commercial-level operation of its kind when it opened last year.  Republicans said the fact only one project in North America was operational showed the technology was not feasible and could not be used to justify the regulations.

“Some [projects] haven’t been completed, some haven’t been started, one has been discontinued, one isn’t even in this country and none of them are large-scale,” Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, said.  “I’m not sure that EPA is actually following the law on this.”

The EPA also has argued in a supplement to its proposal that engineering studies have shown that carbon capture systems are technologically viable.

Read more at McCarthy Defends Viability of Carbon Capture Technologies Before House Energy Panels

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