Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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May 16, 2014

Clean coal technology: Rockefeller measure merits support

— — Two bills designed to advance the commercial deployment of clean coal technologies have been introduced by U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. The legislation is timely, and comes only weeks before the Obama administration is scheduled to roll out unprecedented and controversial emission limits on coal-powered plants across the country.

Rockefeller’s two bills — the Carbon Capture and Sequestration Deployment Act of 2014 and the Expanding Carbon Capture through Enhanced Oil Recovery Act of 2014 — would invest in federal carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) research and development; expand tax credits for innovative companies investing in CCS technologies; create loan guarantees for construction of new CCS facilities and retrofits of existing facilities that utilize CCS, among other provisions.

Rockefeller’s legislation would accomplish several goals. They include:

• Authorizing $1 billion over 15 years for a cooperative industry-government research and development program in the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy. The goal of this program is to demonstrate novel and innovative technologies to capture, use or store carbon dioxide.

• The bill would authorize $20 billion in loan guarantees to be used for the construction of new commercial-scale electric generation units or industrial facilities utilizing CCS technology; the retrofit of existing commercial-scale electric generation units or industrial facilities utilizing CCS technology; and the construction of CO2 transmission pipelines.

• Increase certainty for CO2 capture project developers. The bill would accomplish this by introducing certain reforms for allocating new tax credits under Section 45Q of the Internal Revenue Code.

It goes without saying that new research and investment in clean coal technology is vital to the future of coal — particularly in light of the hostile, anti-coal environment, in Washington. 

“The reality for West Virginia and the rest of the country is that we need coal; we can’t meet our energy needs without it,” Rockefeller said last week. “It is simply unrealistic to think that we can stop burning coal and shift to cleaner sources of energy instantly. And it is equally unrealistic to think that coal is as clean as it could be, or that it will be around forever. Either way, we have to prepare for the future.”

We agree. And the legislation introduced by Rockefeller meets the primary demands of President Barack Obama and other critics of coal across the country. We see no reason why this measure shouldn’t be promptly passed in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. And it would certainly appear hypocritical for Obama — who blames emissions from coal on climate change — to veto a measure aimed at creating clean coal energy.

Rockefeller’s measure merits meaningful discussion and debate, and ultimate passage.

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