The Department of Energy's Carbon Capture and Sequestration Program 14 May 2009
Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on DOE's Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) program and on proposed CCS legislation (S. 1013) on 14 May 2009.
One of the witnesses, Dr. Victor Der, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Office of Fossil Energy at DOE noted that the US has enough coal to last us for the next century but that we also need to achieve near zero emissions. DOE has a “Clean Coal Power Initiative”, however, more research needs to be done on “developing technology options that dramatically lower the cost of capturing CO2 from fossil fuel energy plants.” Der also acknowledged that "both technical and financial challenges associated with the deployment of new advanced coal technologies must be overcome in order to be capable of achieving success in the marketplace."
Another witness, Dr. Kit Batten, Science Advisor in the Office of the Deputy Secretary at DOI said the Department supports the goals of S. 1013 and especially supports the requirement of science-based monitoring throughout all stages of CCS. She noted the US Geological Survey (USGS) could identify the best injection site candidates for CCS, however stressed there are still many unknown factors potentially associated with CCS. The process may conflict with other land uses such as groundwater, natural gas, and oil. There may also be limitations on storage site capacity so the sites do not become compromised.
During the question and answer phase, Chairman Bingaman, Ranking Member Murkowski (R-AK), and Senator Brasso (D-WY) were all concerned about liabilities and ownership. They were curious as to who would own the pore space, the future value of deep saline aquifers, and who would be liable for potential damages or catastrophes. Senator Corker (R-TN) displayed his skepticism about CCS and says he envisions a series of pipelines full of CO2 running across the country from coal plants to storage injection sites. He questioned whether or not CCS is simply a way to temporarily appease those who oppose coal. Senator Corker felt it would be a better use of federal dollars to conduct research at DOE to find a better solution for breaking down and working with CO2. Dr. Der replied there is a project for this at DOE, but if cap and trade legislation is imposed, then the US will not be able to meet the required emissions caps without CCS as the US transitions to cleaner and renewable sources of energy.
Please visit the Witness Statements for more information.