Friday, May 13, 2016

Energy Department Suspends Funding for Texas Carbon Capture Project, Igniting Debate

 Secretary Ernest Moniz said of the Texas Clean Energy Project: "It's just time to move on and to invest in some new innovative technologies because of the lack of milestones being met." The Obama administration has backed away from four carbon capture projects under its Clean Coal Power Initiative. This would be the fifth. (Credit: Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
The Obama administration has suspended funding for a large, troubled carbon capture and storage project, a decision being challenged by politicians from both parties and environmental advocates alike.

While the Texas Clean Energy Project is not officially dead, continued refusal by the Department of Energy to extend any more money would effectively kill it, according to its builder.  That would make it the fifth CCS project the DOE has backed away from.

The agency took a tough stand in February when it denied a request by the project's developer, Summit Texas Clean Energy, for an $11 million advance from its pot of promised federal money. In its budget request for the fiscal year 2017, which begins October 1, the DOE asked Congress to strip the $240 million pledged to the project from the agency's Clean Coal Initiative and use it for other research and development efforts instead.  A final vote on the budget will come late this year.

In a world that continues to burn fossil fuels, CCS is seen as critical to avoid the most calamitous consequences of global warming.

The Clean Coal Initiative had already been under audit by the DOE's inspector general's office, which grew alarmed by how the agency had allowed the Texas project to drag on.  The IG, an independent auditing office, issued a special report on it in April.

"Due to Summit's inability to obtain the required commercial debt and equity project financing and the adverse effect of changing energy markets on the demand for coal-based power plants, we are concerned about the viability of the Project and the Department's continued involvement," the inspector general's report said.  "Although construction of the plant was originally planned for completion in June 2014, the Project remains in the project definition phase.  Additionally, we found that the Department had taken actions that increased its financial risk in the Project."

Read more at Energy Department Suspends Funding for Texas Carbon Capture Project, Igniting Debate

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