Last week, environmental activists praised Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm’s State of the State Address for statements suggesting that she was opposed in some capacity to several proposed coal plants in the state.
However, a week prior, Granholm made another important statement on coal and Michigan. In a press release circulated by the City of Holland, Granholm expressed support for a “carbon sequestration” project at a new coal plant being proposed in Holland:
“The state of Michigan supports this effort to demonstrate the long-term capability of carbon capture and sequestration technology and will assist the city of Holland in its effort to gain approval and federal funding for this important initiative.”
Holland is currently seeking funds from the federal government to research and develop a mechanism for removing carbon from the plant’s emissions and then depositing the carbon underground.
Carbon Sequestration: A Problematic Technology
The technology is called “carbon capture and sequestration” and it has been proposed by “clean coal” advocates as a possible solution to global warming that would allow coal plants to continue to operate.
However, the technology is unproven and there have been no commercially viable applications. The technology is expensive and it may have unintended consequences, both when injecting carbon into the ground and with greater concentrations of other emissions being released into the air. Beyond that, while it addresses emissions, it does not deal with other environmental problems or pollution associated with coal power.
Greenpeace: Carbon Capture and Sequestration a “False Hope”
In a report on the technology last year, the environmental group Greenpeace called carbon capture and sequestration a “false hope.” The report–“False Hope: Why Carbon Capture and Storage Won’t Save the Climate“–said that the technology is nothing more than an attempt at “greenwashing” an “irremediably dirty energy source.”
“The report exposes CCS technology’s woeful inadequacy on numerous points. CCS wastes energy, for one thing, as it uses between 10 and 40% of the plant’s power output just to function. It is also expensive, and could possibly double the cost of constructing a coal-fired power plant, which in turn could lead to the raising of electricity costs for consumers. And despite its exorbitant cost, there is actually no guarantee that storing carbon underground is totally safe or effective – even a very low leakage rate could completely undermine the benefits of CCS. But most importantly, CCS simply can’t deliver on a large scale until 2030, according to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, whereas the scientific consensus about climate change holds that our greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2015 if we’re to avoid the worst effects of man-made global warming.”